Remember Great Aunt Minnie? She died peacefully a few weeks ago. I had a chance to see her one last time in May, and spoke to her on the phone a few days before her death. I couldn't go to her memorial service, so it still seems almost surreal that she's gone, after her being such a constant, steady figure in my family's life all these years.
So it was even more weird to find a thick envelope in my mail the other night, which turned out to be from Minnie's lawyer, because I'll inherit a share of her estate.
Minnie had no children-- she left everything to my father and his 5 sisters, to be divided equally. Since my father died before her, his share now goes to my sister and me. At first, I thought this was weird-- my father's estate was all in some kind of trust going to my mother, and I thought as his surviving spouse she'd be entitled to a share in whatever Minnie had left. This gave me an icky feeling when I saw that her name wasn't included on the papers-- it's not that I want my mother to have more money to burn in irresponsible things, but I didn't want to think she was somehow being shut out. On the other hand, I didn't want to rock the boat, so I asked my sister about it, and she reassured me that my mother was well aware that the will specified that the kids of any of the siblings who were deceased were to be the heirs, not the spouses. (Perhaps because of my family's many divorces and other relationship issues!)
So now I just have to see what happens once the estate is settled and divided up. It's very odd-- I've never been named in a will before. I mean, I was named in my Dad's, but because I was so involved in his estate planning, and it was all about my mom being provided for, I never thought of it as anything actually being left to me. And although Minnie didn't single out me or anyone in my generation, and I'm only getting anything because my dad is dead, which was certainly not a happy matter-- despite all this, I feel weirdly pleased that Minnie is passing something on to me, because I think she would be happy to give it.
After her death, one of my aunts emailed to say that all Minnie's stuff had to be out of the assisted living apartment by the end of the month, and that I should come and claim any items I might want. All I could think to ask for was a book I'd given her about a year ago that I know she had really enjoyed. Other than that, I have other mementos of her-- an old stool that was hers (and made by my great-grandfather), a cracker tin that was in her old kitchen, and a few other small items she'd given me over the years. More importantly I have audio and video recordings of parts of our conversations from the last time we saw each other. And most importantly of all, I have a lifetime of good memories.
But now, I guess I'll also have some money. Weird, weird, weird. I have no idea how much money it will be. I certainly don't expect much, given I'll only get one twelfth of her estate. Though she had a good career and was very frugal, the assisted living place was expensive and I know she worried about being able to afford it. And she was paying for extra nursing care towards the end. So it's not like this will be some great windfall. But it's nice to know I'll get some small amount, whatever it is. We shall see.