By Tom Blake
On Sunday, Jan. 5, my partner, Greta, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, Knives Out. As we settled into our seats, I had no idea the movie would inspire my first column of 2020.
Why did it?
The movie, a humorous, modern-day, Agatha Christie-type of murder mystery, focused on estate planning and how family members can be greedy over their inheritance.
The movie coincided with an email I received from a woman who had similar estate distribution issues with the daughter of the new man in her life.
The woman requested to remain anonymous.
She met a widower on an Internet dating site who lived 500 miles from her. They are both 72. After a two-year courtship, and several visits to each other’s homes, they decided that she would move to live with him. It seems to me they had made intelligent choices.
She did not sell her home; she rented it to tenants she liked.
She said, “We are very grateful to have found love with each other at this stage in our lives and to have each other for help and support whatever may come our way.”
Her family and friends, in her words, “gave him the seal of approval.” Her children were happy for her.
She added, “The only regret I have about the decision to move to his home is that I didn’t meet his daughter, his only child, before I made the move and didn’t talk to him about his relationship with her as much as I should have.
“While he and his daughter lived 10 minutes from each other, she had a demanding job and they didn’t see each other often. I assumed their relationship was closer than it is.
“Before I moved, I asked him if he had asked his daughter how she felt about me moving into the home where she was raised and where her mother had lived.
“His daughter told him she had no objection and thought it made sense and wondered why we hadn’t talked about doing it sooner.
“However, a red flag was raised the first week I lived with him, as his daughter asked him to meet with her privately. The discussion centered around money. He assured her that we were keeping our finances separately and she would not be affected financially by our partnership.
“A short while later, he and I met with the daughter and her boyfriend. During the outing, he mentioned that he had made a slight change in his will to provide funds for me to return to my home should he predecease me.
“That news seemed to be the catalyst for her subsequent alienation/estrangement. He has had no contact with her in more than two years. It’s a very sad situation for them and affects me as well.
“So, I encourage seniors to thoroughly investigate family relationships that a potential partner has, to understand what the possible repercussions might be in making a long-term commitment.”
Tom concludes: Finding love later in life can be a wonderful thing. But remember, when children or other family members are involved, tread lightly regarding the subject of inheritance distribution.
And be particularly cautious about saying the words to your beneficiaries, “I’ve made a slight change in my will.”
As we see from this woman’s story, and from the film Knives Out, those words, or similar words, can cause chaos.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Singles Meet and Greet for this month is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23, from 5-7 p.m. at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, located at 34085 PCH, Dana Point. Complimentary admission and appetizers. Beer and wine are $5 per glass.