Don't leave on your "last journey" without preparation ...

by Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava
(New Delhi, India)

Recently, I had the sad experience of participating in the condolence meeting held near my house. A neighbor's younger brother had died suddenly at the age of 56 after a brain stroke. He had gone up to the roof top of his house for an after-dinner stroll. He had fainted, was taken to a hospital, where brain surgery was performed. He died without regaining consciousness.

His wife had eloped with her boyfriend 25 years ago. She had taken away his (my neighbor's) two biological kids. He did not make any attempt to trace her or bring her back. After about 5 years, he himself brought home a widow who had 2 kids of her own. They started living together without getting married. There was no legal step to dissolve the first marriage or obtain divorce. The man did not change the legal nomination to his bank accounts, provident fund or the small house that he owned. The name of the original wife continued to exist as his successor.

Towards the end of the condolence meeting, a group of people came along with his first (original) wife. They wanted to perform the last rites saying that the lady was the rightful successor.

The live-in partner and her kids had no paper, no documents to show that they had any rights in the assets of the deceased man. The matter is likely to be taken to a Court of Law.

One must never leave things undone. One never knows when one may have to proceed on the last journey.

Comments for Don't leave on your "last journey" without preparation ...

Click here to add your own comments

by: SUZY

The law is cold blood as the lawyers say. It stands blind folded with a scale in it's hand. Prove it if you want to win is the slogan.

The deceased never stopped loving his first wife and the kids. He did not want to disturb her and kids happiness. May be he felt guilty.

Five years later he brings a woman for his needs. She accepts him for roof over her head, food on the table and some one to help her raise the kids, which he did. But this arrangement is not acceptable legally or culturally in Indian religion or society.

Most unfortunately she forfeited her right to every thing by just living with him as a woman and not as a wife.

The man knew what he was doing and wanted. It was just an arrangement of convenience. To him, she was not his wife and he was not the biological father of the children.
May be she was afraid of the answer she would have got.

She should have been clever.
That is India and not the west, where the women are more protected with certain laws.

The law of the land always rules and that is the hard fact.

A clarification
by: Joseph Kainikkara

Hi Wendy,
I believe you jumped to the conclusion that I meant that women are weaker than men. If you would read more carefully and closely what I have written your misunderstanding would be cleared. I have said 'physically weaker' which is a biological fact and strengthens my case that women can't afford to be gullible.

Let me emphatically state here that I am not gender-neutral, but strongly biased ie. biased towards women. In fact my wife and daughter tend to disagree with me some times - to them I look more loyal to women's causes than themselves !

Wendy thanks Joseph!

Life is so uncertain !
by: Joseph Kainikkara

The case described by Prof. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava is so tragic. But I should say such incidents are common in many of the less developed countries of the sub continent.

Two things that particularly strike me about the incident and similar incidents are:

1. People seem to be under the notion that we are in this world for ever. They like to live life forgetting the reality of death, which follows every one like a shadow, from the moment he/she is born.

In fact I see life as a count down, the top end of which is the total years, months, days or moments allotted to you by the Supreme Creator and counting down when you reach zero, your time is up ! As the Holy Quran says, you are not certain that you would be able to breathe out the air that you breathed in. This realization and constant awareness would help reduce the impact of the death of oneself or one's dear ones.

2. Women are handicapped by virtue of being physically weaker than men. The peculiar social situation prevailing in these less developed countries add to the handicap.

In such circumstances women can't afford to be gullible, trifling with their lives and the lives of the children they give birth to. Social and women's organizations have a great role to play in educating such women on the realities of life. Otherwise, such instances would keep recurring.

Wendy: Joseph, I take offense to the statement that women are weaker than men... there are many powerful women around the world. I am publishing this, as is, because I love to see the many different opinions of people. To each his own, but I believe in WOMEN power! Grin!

This happens much too often.
by: Minnie Moore

Something like this happened to me... only I was just a live in companion. I lived with him for about five and a half years, But the gentleman and I made deals that only he and I knew about..

-- like he bought a fifth wheel and sold it to me for $3,000.00 and I paid it all

-- then I work for a Mini pick-up with another person and this gentleman took it on his own to put it in his name so he could help me pay the Insurance, well little did I know that soon after there would be a house fire and he got 85% burnt and died 3-days later.

I told his family about our own deals and they never believed me so I lost my pick-up and fifth-wheel... not to mention all my belongings and they {his family didn't even help me}.

So yes any and all deals you make Get it on paper...

Wendy: Minnie, thank you for sharing! It's hard to ask for it in writing when it's a loved one you are dealing with - but life happens and family may see things differently. I agree -- GET IT IN WRITING!

The importance of getting your affairs in order
by: Susan Whittenham

This article rang so many bells for me!

My parents were divorced very acrimoniously in the early 1960's when divorce was not socially acceptable; Dad married the named 'other woman' in the divorce case and Mum (the innocent party) in the divorce was forced to move to the other end of the country to get away from harrassment and gossip.

After just over 20 years Dad's second wife walked out on him for another man and moved in with her boyfriend, living with him as husband and wife although she was never divorced from my father.

In 2002 dad had to go into permanent residential care with dementia; his wife was still alive and living in a nearby town but Dad had never divorced her - he was the kind of man who preferred to leave problems to go away by themselves. At the time he owned the marital home solely in his name and owned another property jointly with his wife.

In 2003, my Dad's wife died of cancer. I've never said this about anyone else but because of the stress she caused to my mother and myself forty years previously I can honestly say I'm glad she was no longer living.

Dad's will was written when his second wife was still alive and before he started suffering dementia; he specifically stated in his will that he's left nothing to his second wife because she'd left him and they were legally separated.

Had Dad not specifically excluded his wife from his will, his estate would have gone initially to her as his legal next of kin (remember he'd not divorced her so they were still legally man and wife) with a much smaller proportion being available for distribution to myself and my half-sister.

Knowing the vindictive personality of Dad's second wife she's have seen to it that I, as the daughter of the first marriage, got as little as possible if not NOTHING from my Dad's estate after his death in 2005.

The point of this rather long and rambling post is that in the event of a marital breakdown and the start of a new relationship, even if there's not a second marriage, it's sensible to get your financial affairs properly in order to ensure that your estate goes to who you want it to.

Wendy Thank you Susan! Another good lesson to pass along -- your dad did it right. Thank goodness!!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Wills.