In lieu of much newsworthy, I will resort to the evergreen story of the seemingly penniless senior citizen who left a large bequest to a charity in his will. Ken Millen was born in Aberdeen, WA, attended Grays Harbor College there, worked as shoe salesman until the store went out of business in the ’80s, and always lived in the house in which he was born. He inherited some funds 20 years ago from a brother who was an attorney in the South. When Millen died last year, he left some crappy personal property, including his 1979 car, to his neighbors who treated him like a family member. He left the remaining $1 million to his alma mater. The neighbors ended up hauling most of the personal belongings to the dump because they were worthless.
A few non-legal points:
1. As heart warming as these stories are portrayed, they are actually somewhat bothersome in that an individual who was treated decently and warmly by neighbors for years eschews leaving them any funds in lieu of giving it to an institution he attended 65 years ago but likely did not have much present contact with.
2. Estate planning attorneys need to do a better job with clients without living relatives to guide them to leaving some meaningful assets to important individuals in their lives rather than faceless institutions.
3. Mercifully Grays Harbor College does not have a football team so the bequest cannot be wasted on an unnecessary scoreboard.
4. To quote Aberdeen’s most famous resident: “I found it hard, it’s hard to find, Oh well, whatever, never mind.”