Question: “Wilfred, my widowed mother wrote a Will giving her entire estate in equal shares to her children. She has an ‘adopted’ son whom she raised since he was born until he got married. He was not formally adopted though. For us as a family, we always treat him as part of the family. My mother thinks that she should only give her estate to her ‘real’ children. However, she has been feeling guilty about this decision since the day she wrote the Will 10 years ago. Deep now within her heart, she always treats him as her son. She keeps on telling us to redistribute our share of the estate to him. My siblings and I are not greedy and all we want is for her to be happy. What is your advice?”
“The informal request of your mother to ‘redistribute’ yours and siblings’ shares to your adopted brother carries no weight. Your mother should rewrite her Will to include him as one of the beneficiary. Often, it is not the money that is the most important. It is the hidden message being convey that is more important. By not including him to be part of your mother’s Will, your mother is effectively communicating to him that he is never part of the family and thus not worthy even to inherit a single cent. This will cause great hurt upon him and would likely cause the relationship between you and your siblings have with him to be strained. The Will writer was also not professional. He should conduct a full fact analysis of the family and advice your mother this ‘hidden’ message. Very often, the Will writer is more concern with getting the Will legally correct. Being legally correct does not means it will end up having a happy outcome. In this modern age, gone of the days when professionals only take instructions. They must add value by providing excellent service such as advising on the ‘soft’ side of the matter through thorough investigation.”
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