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Back rent leaves widow out in the cold for spouse's inheritance

While the following story doesn't originate from Denver, Colorado, it does highlight some important aspects of estate planning and life care planning. A woman in New York says that her late husband's rent-controlled apartment contains a sizable inheritance, worth somewhere in the range of $18 million. But the managing company that handles the building changed the locks on the apartment because the late husband apparently owed back rent -- or possibly rent racked up since his death. The article isn't exactly clear on that.

The woman has an attorney and they have told the managing company that she needs access to the apartment so that she can collect, but the managing company has retorted that the woman will only be allowed in if the back rent is paid in full. 

This brings up interesting questions surrounding inheritance and how it is disseminated to the people you designate. For example, it sounds like this man accrued quite a bit of wealth -- but he left it in his apartment and it doesn't sound like it was properly tended to. Addressing these assets in an estate plan could have simplified this situation and allowed his spouse access to the inheritance in a proper and uncomplicated way.

It is also reminder to always have an experience attorney on hand to help you with estate planning issues, inheritance issues or life care planning needs. Your attorney can help you craft the right documents for you and your family, or help you address serious problems with the way your deceased loved one's estate is being handled.

Source: USA Today, "Widow is locked out of apartment – and $18M inheritance," Matthew Diebel, Sept. 9, 2014

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