Friday, January 31, 2020

Will and Grace

This is chapter 6 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Thursday Morning, July 9, 2020, Decorah, Iowa

Mareka and her parents were eating breakfast in the nearly empty dining room of the Hotel Winneshiek. Although it had re-opened for business after the shutdown, there were still social distancing rules in place.

“This is an important day for us, Mareka,” said Sean, “We’re going to Tina’s lawyers for the reading of the will.”

“What does that mean?” asked Mareka.

“Well, all of the stuff that Tina had will be given to people or organizations, things that Tina wanted them to have,” said Mary, “It is a legal procedure called ‘settling the estate.’”

“Do I have to go?”

“Not really, but I think you might find it interesting,” said Sean, “It won’t take very long.”

“Who will be there?”

“There will be Tina’s lawyer, of course, and a clerk—somebody who will take notes. Edwin will be there, and possibly some other people who the lawyers have invited.”

“Here comes Edwin now,” said Mary, “I asked him to meet us here so we can go to the lawyers together.”

As Edwin walked up to the table, Mareka stood up and pulled out a chair for the elderly man.

“You can sit by me, Edwin,” she said, smiling.

“Thank you, Mareka, that is nice of you,” said Edwin, “And it is nice to see all of you again… I suppose that you’ll be heading back to Seattle after today.”

“One more night here, and then down to O’ Hare tomorrow afternoon,” said Sean, “Mary and I have our businesses to attend to in Seattle and Mareka will be starting school in September!”

“That will be a big change, won’t it, Mareka?” said Edwin.

“We’ll see,” said Mareka, quietly.

Mary looked at her daughter wistfully. She thought of her own school days and how much she looked forward to it when she was young. As she grew older she felt a relentless pressure to conform, to become ‘like the other kids’, when she wasn’t like them at all, or so it seemed to her. Her adoptive mother didn’t help things either: with her endless hectoring, her negative reactions to all of Mary’s enthusiasms and, worst of all, her subtle but pointed disapproval of Mary’s appearance.

The restarting of the schools in Seattle was also a big thing after they had been closed due to the Covid-19 virus. All of the details hadn’t been worked out yet, but there would be a definite shift to homeschooling and her social interactions would also be limited. Mary had been looking at buying a house and moving out of downtown Seattle. The apartment had been too confining during the self-quarantine. Things would definitely be different for Mareka, regardless of her ‘powers.’

The lawyer’s office was in an old brick office building, a remnant of the town’s earlier years when it was a center for agricultural businesses. Its marble-lined hallways were a cool respite from the heat outside. People began trickling into the lawyer’s conference room; Sean recognized some people from the assisted living facility where Tina had spent her final days and there was the financial advisor Sean had hired for Tina. At ten o’clock Tina’s lawyer entered the room with a stack of papers and stood at the head of the large table where the interested parties were sitting in every other seat.

“Welcome! As most of you know, I am Arthur Goldman, Tina’s attorney,” said the conservatively dressed man. With a magnificent pair of eyebrows that seemed to have a mind of their own, moving like hairy caterpillars when he spoke. “I see that all of the invited parties are here, with the addition of a young lady to whom I have yet to be introduced.”

“Arthur, this is our daughter, Mareka,” said Sean, “We thought that she might be interested in the proceedings.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Goldman!” said Mareka, cheerfully.

“The pleasure is all mine, how nice of you to grace our presence,” said Arthur, “And it is appropriate that you are here, some of this concerns you.”

The people in the room turned to look at the child. Arthur resumed his speech.

“You are all aware that Christina Carroll had considerable assets, the bulk of it inherited from her late father, John Regelind Senior,” continued Arthur, “The Regelind estate primarily consisted of various securities, the proceeds of the sale of his personal real estate holdings, and artwork and other effects of Emily Carroll, who was Sean’s grandmother. The cash and security assets had been previously divided between Tina and her nephew,” he said, motioning to Sean, “With Sean as manager of his grandmothers’ effects. Tina was very specific in her desires for the distribution of the remainder of her share of the assets—all of you here have been invited because you have been mentioned in her will. This is a Transfer On Death action and, unless otherwise challenged, there will be no probate. I will ask Mr. Leonard Anderson, her financial advisor, to summarize said assets.”

A tall, middle aged man stood up with a piece of paper in his hands.

“The bulk of Christina Carroll’s assets were one hundred Berkshire Hathaway class A shares. The stock price at time of death of a single share was two-hundred and forty-two thousand dollars. She also had cash, held in joint savings and checking accounts with Mr. Edwin Dibble of Decorah, Iowa, in the First Bank of Decorah, Iowa. Under Iowa law, these funds will be automatically assumed by Mr. Dibble.” Leonard put the paper down, “Mr. Goldman, these are all of her assets held under my purview.”

“Thank you, Leonard,” said Arthur, picking up a paper from his stack on the table, “I will now list the beneficiaries and their endowments:
In consideration of their unflagging support of me in my seniority, I bequeath to the Decorah Sunset Community, LLC, four shares of Berkshire Hathaway class A stock (hereafter referred to as BHA.)

To Winneshiek County Sheriff’s department, four shares of BHA, in gratitude for all the assistance they have provided me and my family.

To the Vesterheim Museum, four shares of BHA, to continue their mission of supporting the Scandinavian heritage of the area.

To the Decorah Public Library, four shares of BHA, to continue their cultural efforts.

To Edwin Duddle of Decorah, Iowa, my faithful companion, four shares of BHA, all monies in our joint bank accounts as well as my personal belongings to dispose of as he sees fit.

And, finally, to my great-niece Mareka Carroll Robinson, eighty shares of BHA, to be held in trust until her twenty-first birthday, with her parents named as co-administrators.
All eyes turned toward Mareka.

“Any questions?”

The room was silent. Finally, Mareka spoke:

“Can I get a Whippy Dip, now?”

Next chapter: Tea Time

By Professor Batty

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