When I think of a gold digger, my mind conjures up two images: 1) an 1800’s scruffy old man panning for gold, and 2) The Housewives of Beverly Hills, Atlanta, or wherever. In the old days, a gold digger was someone who ransacked the graveyards stealing gold from the deceased. In my world of estates, I see a different kind of gold digger; one that you won’t know exists until a loved one dies or takes seriously ill.
We see estates literally ransacked, like a bunch of coyotes rummaged through the place. Boxes that once sat neatly in the attic and closets are ripped open and left in a jumbled mess, opened with contents spilling out. Closets are left with clothes not on hangers, but in a huge heap on the floor! Kitchen cupboards are askew and I guarantee the silver is long gone. It would appear they left no stone unturned. Were they looking for gold, silver, or cold, hard cash?
What is this incessant need for people to take stuff and help themselves?
I call them Mr. Pilfer and Miss Pickpocket. They come in, often under cover of the darkness, and things disappear, never to be found again. Is it greed, the entitlement mentality, or just a lack of care and consideration for the memory of the loved one?
I have come to the conclusion, after talking with dozens of executors, that one of the problems is there are too many keys floating around. One of the first things I recommend is changing the locks to protect the contents until they are inventoried and/or valuated. Another thorn in the executor’s paw is that sometimes they will tell the family and extended members that “Uncle Joe was known for his cash stashes, guns, gold coins, etc.”
This just happened in the estate I was working in. The executor, thinking he was being honest and open with everyone, told the family there was cash in the house. You know what happened next? Ransack city.
Sometimes, the executor won’t even know there are valuables or cash, but other family members suspect there is money in the estate. It is the executor’s responsibility to protect what is in the estate! No one should go in until all is established and ready to be divided according to the will (if there is one). Hopefully, the executor is honest!
Moral of the story: Loose talk makes valuables walk.
© 2012 Julie Hall