The following story is a fictionalized version of a real event reflecting laws that may not apply to your jurisdiction. This article is produced for entertainment purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Readers are advised to seek legal advice relevant to their circumstances, the jurisdiction in which their matter pertains to and the laws in place therein.
Four year old Frankie sat nervously in the social services office.
“This family will take good care of you,” the caseworker promised.
“That’s what you said about the last one.” A tear slid down Frankie’s cheek.
The Finchleys appeared at the door with big smiles. “We’re so happy you’ll be living with us!”
Bob and Estelle and their daughter Veronica welcomed Frankie into the family with open arms. But Frankie was still feeling insecure.
“AAHHG! Get away from me!” Frankie screamed in terror.
Bob and Estelle raced over. “It’s just a bad dream. No one’s going to hurt you anymore.”
For the next 18 years, his foster parents helped him with homework, bullies, teenaged angst, and choosing colleges.
Estelle wiped a tear as they helped Frankie settle into his first apartment.
“We’ll see you and Veronica every Sunday for dinner! We love you.”
“I love you too!” Frankie hugged them.
The foster parents continued to help out financially on occasion.
Sadly, Estelle passed away and Bob developed emphysema.
Frankie helped Veronica organize his care.
Tragedy struck again when Veronica was killed in an accident.
Frankie got Power of Attorney to handle Bob’s affairs.
Finally, Bob passed away.
Grief stricken, Frankie was comforted by a friend at the funeral. “Bob loved you so much.”
“He was the best,” Frankie said sadly.
“I hope he provided for you in his Will…”
Frankie brushed off the concerns. “Actually, he didn’t leave a Will. But I’m sure everything will work out.”
“Don’t be so sure,” declared a woman in a dark suit. It was Bob’s 5th cousin once removed.
“Belinda? I haven’t seen you since I was little.” Frankie was shocked.
“I heard Bob died without a Will. And I’m his only heir.”
“You descend like a vulture after no contact for 25 years?” Frankie was incensed.
“Vulture or not. I’m family. I get the money.”
“We’ll see what a Judge has to say about that,” Frankie vowed.
IN THE COURTROOM
Frankie fought for fairness. “I deserve the inheritance. I lived with Bob and Estelle for 18 years. We had a very close and caring family relationship. Bob treated me like his son so the law should too.”
Belinda was curt. “If Bob had wanted you to be his son, he would have adopted you. Plain and simple.”
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“Sorry, Frankie,” the Judge said. “There’s no convincing evidence that Bob intended to adopt you or treat you as an adopted son. A close familial relationship just isn’t enough. Without a Will, we must carry out the intent he most likely had, even though you’re far more deserving of the inheritance than Belinda.”