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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 18, 2005 / 9 Nisan, 5765

Was the will stolen — or revoked?

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: I am one of three children. When my mother prepared her will three years ago, she sent each of us a copy of her will with a handwritten note explaining that her original will would be found in the family Bible in her bedroom on her dresser. In that will, she divided her estate into four equal shares — one for me and each of my siblings, and one for my oldest daughter, who had always been her favorite grandchild.

She named me as her personal representative to handle her estate. I had nothing to do with her decisions, and she had gone to her longtime family lawyer by herself.

While I appreciate my mother being up front with everyone, which was her style, the fact that she named me — the youngest — as her representative and gave my daughter a child's share did not sit well with my siblings, who have said little to me since then.

When Mom died earlier this year, I went to her home to get the original will from her Bible (she had showed it to me before), but it was nowhere to be found. I did find a copy of her will with a copy of the letter she had sent each of us. I searched high and low for the original, and could not find it. I went to her lawyer, who had a receipt signed by my mother acknowledging she had taken the original with her. He told me that she was perfectly satisfied with the will as written and had not come back to his office to change it. He was the only lawyer she and my father ever used.

I went to my brother and sister and asked if they would agree to the copy being filed with the court, but they both refused. I have seen a lawyer, who told me that it would be next to impossible to use the copy under the circumstances. While I don't like to think that my brother or sister removed the original to gain a larger share, I can't imagine any other scenario. Is there any way I can carry out my mother's wishes?

A: While the precise answer to your question depends on the law of your state, with most situations where a last will and testament is retained by the person signing it (here, your mother), and cannot be found at death, it's presumed that the will was destroyed by the signatory (called a "testatrix" if a female, and "testator" if a male). However, this presumption can be rebutted by contrary evidence, but the burden would be on you as the proponent of the will to prove the will had not been revoked.

Some of the factors that may be considered include statements from your mother that she did not intend to revoke the will, evidence that until her death, she maintained a loving attitude toward your granddaughter, and evidence that others had access to the will before your mother's death. While you believe that one of your siblings may have destroyed or removed your mother's will to gain a financial advantage, there is no legal presumption this happened — even though the motive was present.

Because folks generally don't keep a logbook or diary of when family members come to visit, we believe that despite what appears to be a clear motive to cut out your daughter, your battle will be uphill and expensive. Everyone knew where the will was located, and there are other possibilities that we don't believe will allow you to overcome the presumption of revocation. For example, your mother may have taken it from the Bible, forgot to put it back, and it was thrown out with the trash.

While it may be inconceivable to some that this kind of thing goes on, there are protections that can and should be put in place: 1) Tell only your personal representative where your will is located. If in a safe deposit box, consider placing the name of your personal representative on the signature card and giving him or her a key, assuming little else is in the box; 2) Leave your original will with your lawyer and have him or her put it in his/her safe, but be sure to get a receipt. The drawback here is that your lawyer may die or retire or you may forget where you left your will; 3) Sign two or three duplicate original wills so that you can retain one, your lawyer can keep one, and you can give an original to your personal representative; and 4) make a decision as to whether you want to start the family feud before you die or afterward if you leave your estate other than equally to your children. Sometimes, as in the case here, being forthright and up front may not be the safest policy.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

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