"To Whom Shall I Will"

 

An Estate Tax Tale

By: Ashley Braun

††††††††††††††††††

 

Setting:Present-day Chicago, IL, Late October

†††† The time was approximately 7 am on a Monday morning and the sound of the alarm radio rang out into Babette's ears."Dang it Ralph, you did it again!" she said angrily and groggily.Ralph had left earlier and had reset the alarm to awake Babette to the local Spanish station, which was an extreme pet peeve of hers.Babette Burchfield, 29, was Ralph Richardson's beautiful, golden-haired girlfriend, who was a fashion model for Nordstrom's in downtown Chicago.About nine months ago, she had met Ralph one night at the Signature Room & Lounge on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building.The two hit if off immediately and they were now living together in Ralph's apartment on the outskirts of the city.Ralph, 34, was an attorney and he too was also very good looking.He had been a player for the majority of his life until he had met Babette.In Ralph's eyes, she was not only beautiful like him, but conceited and deceitful as well.The two of them would do almost anything for money and power and were both used to getting what they wanted in life.After several weeks, they became a team; and with Ralph's knowledge of the law and with her beauty, the two were currently working on a plan to become filthy rich, very quickly.

†††† Ralph had left the apartment around 5:30am this morning and caught the CTA into the city.He had been going into work earlier lately, so he could do some research on the current scheme he and Babette were developing.The research involved one of the law firm's clients- Mr. Henry Herrington.Mr. Herrington was an extremely wealthy old man, who was around 85 years old.He had no children, no siblings, and had never been married- and anyone who met him could see why.Besides being unattractive, he was just plain sloppy and crude, and as he aged it just grew worse.To look at the man, one would have thought he was just another Chicago street-rat, not a billionaire by the least.He accumulated his wealth from his parents, who had both died in 1920 from a rare disease they had contracted, while visiting the Middle East on a company business trip.The couple left Henry, a toddler at the time, with millions that had resulted from a huge settlement from their company.Henry was taken in by his closest relative, an Uncle, from whom Henry developed his personality, acquiring his mannerisms, crude behavior, and willful isolation from society.The only beneficial aspect that had arisen from this relationship was Henry's acquiring of his uncle's ability to manage and invest money wisely.His uncle managed Henry's fortune until he passed away leaving Henry, 19, with his estate, as well as Henry's well-invested fortune to now manage.Henry was now a young man with billions of dollars and had to find something productive to do with his life.He decided to go to college, where he pursued a degree in horticulture due to his extreme passion for plants.After he earned his degree, he began a greenhouse nursery from his home outside of Chicago and would raise and sell plants for the rest of his life.His plants, he claimed, were his friends.

†††† Henry had become one of Ralph's law firm clients in the late 1960's when Henry had encountered some legal trouble when some hippie teenagers had asked him to raise some "unique and exquisite " plants for them.Due to Ralph's extreme anti-socialism and unawareness of what was actually going on in the world around him, he agreed to raise these plants for the kids for several years nestled among his many other exotic plants.Needless to say, it was marijuana he was cultivating and the law finally caught him; however, with the aid of the law firm he got out of most of the trouble and the kids were justly convicted for the illegal act.Ever since that incident, Henry became a prominent client of the law firm, engaging them to handle his will, estate matters, and any other legal transactions this "hidden" billionaire may encounter.

†††† When Ralph joined the firm in 1985, he had the opportunity to review Mr. Herrington's account and view his will while going through some files.The information he reviewed that day always stood out in the back of his mind.A will, which is a testamentary disposition of property, is a final, formal declaration by a person (the testator) concerning the manner in which his or her property is to be disposed of after his or her death.A person may revoke and/or change his or her will during his or her lifetime.If a person dies without having executed a valid will, state intestacy laws prescribe the manner in which the decendant's property is to be distributed among heirs and next of kin.It is important to note that 70% of Americans die without wills, or die intestate.Mr. Herrington had made his will and any lawyer from the law firm was named to be the executor, which is a personal representative named in a will to settle the affairs of a decedent.Ralph had also noticed in Mr. Herrington's will that he had bequest his entire estate to the Nature Conservatory, which is a qualified charitable organization.They were to receive the bequest, or gift of personal property provided for in a will in which title to the personal property initially vests in the decedent's personal representative.Mr. Herrington's bequest was a "general" bequest, which is a gift of a quantity of personal property (usually a sum of money) without a specific identification or description of the property; as opposed to a "specific" bequest, which is a gift of identified, particular, described property, (such as a diamond ring), and has precedence over a general bequest.†† Ralph was astonished- billions of dollars were going to be donated to some plant organization!Of course, he knew the reason why Mr. Herrington had set it up this way.Bequests to qualified charitable organizations are totally deductible to the estate.Therefore, Henry's taxable estate at the time of his death would be zero after the unlimited charitable deduction, which would result in zero estate taxes.However, Ralph did not believe in giving money to anyone but himself and this bequest totally blew his mind.His philosophy was, if he worked for the money, why should he give it to someone else even if it was used to avoid taxes.

†††† Now that Mr. Herrington was approaching ninety, Ralph knew Henry would be kicking the bucket in the near future, and this meant if he was going to act upon his long thought out scheme, he needed to act on it soon.He needed a sexy, young, deceitful woman to carry out his plan and he had found the perfect candidate, Babette.Not long after he met Babette, he knew she was the one who would be crucial to the successfulness of his plan.He told her about the scheme not long after they met, because he knew somehow that he could trust her and that she would help him, and of course she would benefit greatly from the scheme as well.

†††† Ralph's plan was this: Henry's will had to be changed and Babette was going to help him change it by making Henry fall in love with her, marry her, and thus leaving his entire estate to her.†† After Henry died, Ralph would marry Babette and the two would be unbelievably rich for the rest of their lives and move to a secluded tropical paradise.After discussing the plan with Ralph, Babette immediately wanted to help him; however, she had never seen Henry Herrington!

†††† The time was approximately noon now, and despite the October chill Ralph's palms were sweating profusely, for this afternoon Henry and Babette were going to meet for the first time.Henry had to be willing to fall in love with her, or the plans would fail.Ralph had arranged an appointment for Henry to come to the law office to discuss a few changes Ralph thought might be beneficial to include in his will.At this meeting, Babette would walk in the office looking for her long-lost, distant cousin Ralph, and would stumble across Henry and begin to make the initiative.Ralph had told Babette that Henry was not that attractive and to be prepared.

Babette responded, "Oh, he can't be that bad- just a cute, cuddly, old grandpa, right?"Was she was in for a surprise!Ralph hoped that she would not back out.

†††† The time had come.It was 2pm and Ralph heard a knock outside his office door."Ralph, Ralph, Ralph, are you there Ralph?" stuttered Mr. Herrington in his shaky old voice.

"Yes, I'm coming," replied Ralph hurrying nervously towards the door."Well, hello there Mr. Herrington, please do come in," Ralph politely greeted.Mr. Herrington wobbled in the office with his cane and sat in the chair across from Ralph, pulling it up, as close to the desk as possible so he could see Ralph better.Henry immediately began collecting findings from his facial crevices and sorting them in Ralph's desk ashtray.This was a habitual procedure Ralph had become used to during Mr. Herrington's office visits.

†††† Ralph began the session discussing the current state of Henry's will."Henry, as I currently comprehend, your will indicates you are bequesting your entire estate to a charitable organization, correct?" questioned Ralph.††

"Definitely," Henry stated.

Ralph continued on by stating, "I consulted with our in-house CPA, John Jackson, regarding some taxation issues on your estate, and he provided me with the following information concerning your charitable contribution: An estate or complex trust is allowed a deduction for contributions to charitable organizations under certain conditions.The first condition is that the contribution is made pursuant to the will or trust instrument, and its amount is determinable using the language of that document.The second condition is that the recipient is a qualified organization, and unlike individual and corporate donors, estates and trusts are permitted a deduction for contributions to certain foreign charitable organizations.And third, generally the contribution is claimed in the tax year it is paid, but a fiduciary can treat amounts paid in the year immediately following as a deduction for the preceding year. "

"Mr. Herrington, your contribution meets all of these conditions and will be made at the time of your death," Ralph concluded.

†††† "And, no estate taxes will have to be paid, right?" Henry asked.

"Correct, the testamentary transfer merely neutralizes the effect of the inclusion of the property in the gross estate by a deduction for estate tax purposes. And since you have stated in your will that the bequest to the qualified charitable organization shall equal the value of your gross estate at the date of your death, your taxable estate will be zero," Ralph answered.

"Oh goody," Henry giggled.

†††† Just about that time, the door to Ralph's office flung open and Babette stood in the doorway.Henry's mouth hit the floor when he took his first glance of Babette.She was sporting a mini-skirt and a very revealing top, looking absolutely gorgeous as always.Babette floated across the floor and Ralph met her in the middle of the room with open arms."Ralph darling, oh how I've missed you and now I have found you after all these years," she said.

"I can't believe it's actually my sweet, little Betty. What a pleasant surprise!" he said hugging her.Henry sat in his chair still staring at the woman and trying to remember where he had seen her before.

"Aha, I know you; you are Miss January aren't you?" Henry blurted.Babette gave him a puzzled look and for the first time got a good look at him.She glared at Ralph and Ralph interrupted the thought by introducing her as his long-lost cousin Betty.

†††† Henry immediately took an interest in Babette, and she knew it was time for her to begin her act.She began flirting with Henry and eventually Henry worked up the nerve to ask Babette to a late lunch.Of course she said yes, but in the back of her mind she could not believe she was actually going to be in a public restaurant with this man.Ralph sat back in his chair extremely pleased with the progression and offered his suggestion on a dining establishment."Take her to Harey Carey's, Henry. The food is excellent and it's right around the block. I'll even call and make reservations for the two of you, if you would like," he suggested.

"Would you care to join us cousin?" Babette asked.

"No, I have a lot of work to do today and besides I'll visit with you later.You know you have an open invitation to stay with me on your visit.Just come back by the office later and I'll show you to my apartment if you want," Ralph responded.

"Sounds great," Babette replied and then looked at Henry and said, "Well, we'd better get going Henry.I'm starving and Ralph needs to work."

"Yes, let's go to 'Harey Whatever's,' and umm Betty, would you mind helping me put this glue on my dentures?I feel the suckers starting to slip," Henry asked.

"Uh, why yes," Babette stated reluctantly.She began thinking, "What have I gotten myself into", but then in the back of her mind the dollar signs outweighed any negative thoughts.

†††† When they left, Ralph sat back in his chair again and pleasantly smiled.His plans were falling right into place nicely, and he just hoped Babette, or "Betty," would work fast.

†††† Babette did not have to do much to win the affection of Henry Herrington.Henry was already falling head over heels for this young woman.He had never had any female even look at him and smile, much less help him fasten his teeth.

†††† When they arrived by taxi to Harey Carey's, Babette helped him into the restaurant.She hoped she would not see anyone she knew and constantly found herself looking around.After they were seated, the waiter asked if they would like an appetizer to start with.

Henry said, "No, I just want some grub, and so does she."

The waiter then asked, "Okay, what sort of grub would you care for, sir?""Something easy to chew and digest, and then of course whatever the pretty, young lady wants," Henry said.

†††††††† Babette said, "I'll take a Caesar Salad with some water."

"Great ma'am and for you sir, we have a variety of soups that would fit your request today," the waiter offered.

"Okay, I'll take some soup, but I don't want the stuff too hot cause it'll cause my teeth to fall out in the soup.She just glued them back in for me a little bit ago," Henry explained.

"Sure sir, we'll make sure it's lukewarm for you.Would you care for anything to drink?" the waiter asked reluctantly.

"Ensure will be great," Henry said.

"Sorry sir, we do not offer Ensure on the menu; however, we do have milk shakes," the waiter responded.

"Milk! Are you kidding? I'm lactose intolerant and if I even smell milk I'll bloat up like a pregnant cow.Just give me water, even though I'll have to make several trips to the bathroom before we're done with our meal.You see, I have aÖ"

Babette interrupted Henry by asking the waiter, "Excuse me for interrupting, but where is the restroom?"

"To the right of the bar ma'am and I'll be right back with your drinks," the waiter replied and hurriedly left the table and Henry's current thought.The waiter rolled his eyes as he made his way to the kitchen and was trying to figure out why such a beautiful woman was with such a crude, old, ugly man."Money definitely," he murmured under his breath.

†††† Babette returned and they made it through lunch without Henry's dentures falling in his soup and without any other major embarrassing catastrophes.On the ride back to Ralph's office, Henry told Babette that he had a wonderful time and that he loved her at first site.He asked her if she would come visit him again while she was in town.

Babette said she would and he asked, "How about tomorrow at my house? I'll show you all of my beautiful vegetation.I'm a horticulturist, you know."

"Okay," Babette said, "I'll get Ralph to drop me off tomorrow afternoon."

"Oh, goodie gumdrops!" Henry giggled."Can I give you a good-bye kiss before you go?" he asked.

Babette looked at him and pecked him on his forehead and said, " I'll see you tomorrow."She got out of the cab and waved good-bye to Henry as the cab drove off.Henry was in love for the first time in his life.

†††† Babette raced up to Ralph's office and flung open the door again."I need a drink!" she exclaimed.

"Well, how did it go? Does he like you?" Ralph questioned.

"What do you think, Ralph?He's in love with me already and has invited me over to his house tomorrow to view his vegetation," she replied.

"Great!" Ralph exclaimed.

"Great for you.You have the easy part of this deal," she said.

"There wouldn't be a deal without me," he reminded her.

"Yes, I know Ralph.I just honestly don't think I can marry that man.I had a hard enough time kissing his crusty forehead," she piped.

"Well, you might not have to marry him.If you can just get him to change his will and leave the majority of his estate to you, we'll be set.After the will has changed, we will kill him by some unfortunate accident with a plant or something," Ralph explained.

"Won't that look suspicious?" she said.

"No, I'll figure something out.I'll post-date the will," he told her."Look, I know he'll go for it.The man already loves you!Don't worry, it'll work.My plans never fail," Ralph persuaded.

"How long do you think this will take?" Babette asked.

He responded by saying, " I'm not sure, but we'll give it about six months and if he hasn't changed it yet, I have another idea."

†††† Ralph's backup plan was to write a codicil.A codicil is a separate writing that revokes, amends, or supplements a prior will.The general rules are as follows: a codicil is executed with the same formality as a will; a codicil must refer expressly to the testator's will; and if a codicil or a later will does not expressly revoke a prior will, the codicil or later will controls when the codicil or subsequent will is inconsistent with a provision in an earlier will.Ralph would formulate a codicil and have Henry sign it, unknowingly, leaving his entire estate to Babette, and of course Ralph would date it back quite a few years.But first, Ralph wanted to see if Henry would legally change his will for Babette, which he was pretty certain he would.

SIX MONTHS LATER

†††† It was early April now and Babette, or "Betty," had been living with Mr. Herrington and his shrubbery for about four months.The situation was getting old and Babette was ready to have her "model-life" back."What happened to my morning cappuccinos after yoga exercises?" she moaned.She felt like a worn out nurse.Her cappuccinos had been replaced by Ensure and as for yoga, well the closest thing she was doing to stretching was bending downward to clip Henry's tough toenails.She meditated every minute of it, thinking, "money, money- don't forget about the money."

†††† As far as Henry, he felt like a king and absolutely adored Babette.The time had come to ask Babette to marry him.

†††† He proposed in one of his gardens early one morning, and Babette of course had to say yes.However, she told him they would set the date at a later time.She wanted to make sure the relationship was going to work first.

He agreed.

†††† A few days later, they began to start talking about finances.Henry finally told Babette about his will, and how he was leaving everything to the Nature Conservatory.He said, "Betty, I love plants, but I also love you now.I must rethink my will."

Babette said sadly, "I will be a pauper after you die with no one to take care of me, but after all it is your money and not mine.""That's it- I'm going to change it.I want you to be able to eat and take care of my plants when I'm gone.Promise me you will and I will leave 75% of my estate to you and the rest goes to charity.Is that okay?" Henry asked.

Babette was very excited.Her time with Henry Herrington was almost over."Of course my sweetheart," she lovingly replied.She could not wait to go downtown today and let Ralph know that he did not have to worry with the codicil!Their plan was working.

†††† Later that morning, Henry approached Babette and asked her, "Betty, when you go into the city today would you mind stopping in and setting up an appointment with Ralph for me?I want him to get in touch with the CPA to figure out how much in estate taxes I will have to pay now.I want to minimize those for you darling."

"Perfect," Babette replied and continued by saying, "I wanted to stop by and tell him hello anyway. Oh, he'll probably need a current estimate of your gross estate.

What would that be?"Henry thought a minute and said, "Around $2.4 billion, I think," he said.

"Thanks baby," she replied and turned around with a deep grin.

†††† As Babette was traveling into downtown Chicago on the CTA, she was day dreaming about what her life was going to be like after she was married to Ralph, with billions of dollars.She did like Ralph, but did not want to marry him.She had been thinking for a while that once Henry dies, the money was going to legally be hers and not Ralph's by the least.The plan was his to begin with, but Babette was going to skip out on Ralph.She did not even feel guilty, for she had to do all of the dirty work anyway.

†††† Babette arrived on Michigan Avenue and walked a couple of blocks to Ralph's office building.She met Ralph in the lobby by mishap, and the two decided to go out for lunch to discuss the news.

†††† "I can't believe he finally popped the question to you!We're definitely in the money now," Ralph mumbled as he was trying to eat his Fettuccini Alfredo and talk at the same time.

†† "He wants to set up an appointment with you to discuss his estate taxes, Ralph.He told me his current gross estate was estimated at $2.4 billion. Can you believe that?" Babette told him.†††† "Wow-wee!How much are we getting?" he asked.

"Seventy-five percent," she said.

"Well, tell him to come into the office tomorrow and I'll have an estimate for him, and his will ready to be changed at his consent," he said with a smile.

"Should I come too?" Babette asked.

"No, I donít think it would be a good idea.I think you need to stay at his house and work on the death plan," Ralph suggested.

"How are we going to do it?" she wondered.

"Take these pills and put them in his Ensure after the will has been changed.He'll just go to sleep peacefully. Then, you can call 911 a few days later and say you found him when you came over that morning to help him garden or something," Ralph explained.

"Got it!" Babette said and left the restaurant with the tokens to billions of dollars.

†††† Early the next morning, Henry arrived at Ralph's office.Ralph let him in and began to explain the estate tax consequences to him if he changed his will.

†††† "First of all I want to offer you my congratulations Henry old boy!I couldn't be happier for the two of you," Ralph began.

"Thank you, Ralph. I am very excited.Betty is very special to me," Henry replied.

"Well Mr. Herrington, let's get down to business.I consulted with our CPA regarding your estate taxes, if you change your current will.He gave me an overview of estate taxation in which I will go over with you.To determine your taxable estate, when you pass on, your assets will be accumulated and valued at their net fair market values, either as of your date of death or an alternate lower valuation date.This total is called your gross estate," Ralph explained."Mr. Herrington, do you have a life insurance policy?" Ralph questioned.

"Of course I do, and I want Betty to be the beneficiary now," he replied.

Ralph responded by saying, "Well, it's fine if she is the beneficiary, but you might want to make her the owner of your policy as well.The reason for this is that if you own your own policy, the proceeds will be included in your gross estate when you die.However, if Betty owns your policy, the proceeds are not included."

"Sounds weird, but if it will result in less taxes I'll change it," Henry answered.

†††† Ralph continued, "Now let's discuss the deductions to your estate.First of all, there is no standard deduction allowed for an estate; however, there is an unlimited marital deduction for property bequeathed outright to the surviving spouse.This would apply to you, if you and Betty are married before you die."

"Well, I sure do hope so. What are the other deductions?" Henry asked.

"Okay, your estate is allowed to deduct expenses of administering and settling the estate, medical care expenses, and as you know, charitable bequests.Your estate is also allowed a deduction for any outstanding debts," Ralph explained.

†††† Ralph went on, "To determine your tax liability, first you take your gross estate and subtract all of the deductions allowed to you.This is called your taxable estate.To this amount, you add any lifetime gifts from Form 709 and the resulting total is used to compute your tax liability from the current Unified Gift & Estate Tax rate schedule. Your taxes would then be reduced by the Unified Credit lifetime gift & estate tax exclusion, a state death tax credit, and/or any cumulative gift taxes paid from the last Form 709 you filed.This final amount would be your estate tax liability to be reported on Form 706 and filed with the IRS."

†††† "Sounds confusing, but I know that your experts will figure it all out for me once I'm gone.What about the numbers I gave you?Do you have a current estimate for me?" Henry asked.

"Yes," replied Ralph and continued by saying, "According to the figures you gave to Betty, your total gross estate would be $2.4 billion.From this amount, $0.6 billion will be donated to charity and therefore would result in a corresponding deduction, leaving the taxable estate equal to $1.8 billion.This entire amount will be subject to tax liability, if you die before marrying Betty.However, if you marry Betty and bequest this property to her, the estate will be allowed a marital deduction for approximately this amount leaving your taxable estate at $0.However, Betty will then have to make sure she continues to consult with our firm's CPA or another accounting firm to properly plan for the rest of her life. "

†††† "I understand completely, Ralph.I need to marry Betty soon after I change my will, right?" Henry said.

"Um, yes, that would be wise," replied Ralph.

"Okay, Ralph, I'm ready to sign away my life to Betty.Do you have the papers ready?"

"But of course, here they are Mr. Herrington.Just sign by the X."Ralph gladly handed the new will over to Mr. Herrington.Mr. Herrington read over the new will, signed it, and then left the office with a smile.††

†††† After Henry left, Ralph immediately picked up the phone and called Babette.

"Hello," she answered.

"Babette, hey its Ralph and look we've got a big problem."

"Was the will changed?" she asked.

"Yes, but it looks like you are going to have to marry him now or we're going to lose out on a lot of money to taxes," Ralph told her.

"What! Well, I guess I'll have to do it for taxed-saved dollars," she said resentfully.

"Great, now push for the wedding as soon as possible. I know he'll be willing," Ralph stated.

"Just leave it to me Ralph," she said.Babette hated to have to marry the old guy, but she wanted the most money she could get and besides she thought it would probably be easier to cut Ralph out of his portion if she were married to Henry first.Now, as Henry left the office, he did not go straight home.He told the cab driver to swing by Donald Doherty's office, who was Henry's old college friend's son, now serving as a city judge.Donald's father, Eddie Doherty, had been a roommate with Henry in college and the two of them had remained friends throughout the years.However, Eddie had passed on several years ago survived by his only son, Donald, and his wife, Ethel.So, Henry had made it a point to visit with "Don" on his trips into the city.On this particular visit, Henry was going to ask Don if he would mind marrying him and Babette, possibly tomorrow if he could.

†††† As Henry stepped out of the cab and into Don's office building, everyone as usual greeted him."Good morning Mr. Herrington, here to see Judge Doherty?" one of the secretaries asked him.

"Yes, he's expecting me," replied Henry.

"I'll let him know you are on your way," she said.Henry proceeded through the huge oak doors and down a long, beautifully decorated hall and into Don's office.

"Don," Henry said as he peeped in the door.

Don looked up from his paper-filled desk and said, "Why, hello Henry.How are you this morning?Have you just come from Ralph Richardson's office?"

"Yes, and the will was changed," Henry replied.

"Did you notice?" Don asked.

"Yes, it was post-dated," said Henry with a devilish sort of grin.

"Okay, sign these and try to get the two of them in here tomorrow for the ceremony.I'll call John Jackson, the CPA from the firm, to come too," Don told Henry.

"Great, see you tomorrow," Henry replied.The two shook hands and then Henry left Don's office and made his way back home to Babette.

†††† "Betty dear, I have something to ask you," Henry said as he walked into his living room.

†††††††† "Yes, so do I.I'm ready to get married, are you?" she asked.

"That's funny, I was going to ask you the same thing.I met with Ralph this morning and everything is set with the will.We just have to get married and Ralph said the sooner the better," Henry responded.

He continued, "Is tomorrow fine with you, Betty? I have an old friend who is a justice of the peace.He offered to marry us in his office.We just need two witnesses.I thought Ralph and John from the law firm would work out."

Babette replied back cheerfully, "That sounds great to me.Now, I have to go shop for a suit and get my hair and nails done.I want to look my best tomorrow."

"That's a good idea," said Henry with a smirk.

†††† The next morning Henry and Babette were scheduled to arrive at Don's office for 10 am.When they arrived, Ralph and John were waiting for them in the lobby.Ralph immediately spoke out by saying, "Well, today's the big day Henry!"

"It sure is.I never thought it would get here," Henry replied.

"Have the two of you decided where you are going on your honeymoon?" Ralph asked.

"No, we're going to wait and decide this afternoon.It's been so hectic getting everything ready.I mean, we just decided yesterday morning to get married today," Henry said.

"Well, we plan on taking the two of you out to celebrate after the ceremony.Is that okay?" Ralph asked.

"Sure," Henry answered.

†††† Just then, Don came out into the lobby and greeted them."Good morning everyone, are we ready to begin?" he asked.

Babette responded immediately, "Yes, let's go."She wanted to get this over with and was not looking at all forward to the ceremony, but kept on.

"Great, let's go to my office," Don said.

The group proceeded down the hall and once inside Henry said, "I don't feel so good." Ralph looked at Babette and she gave Ralph a puzzled look.

Don said, "Here, sit down a minute Henry.You're probably just a bit nervous."As Henry staggered over to the chair, he fell to the floor holding his chest.It appeared he was having a heart attack.

†††† "No!" shrieked Babette.She immediately went to him and tried to revive him.

"I'll call an ambulance," Don said running to the phone.But by the time the paramedics arrived, Henry was dead.The paramedics told them it did not appear to be a heart attack, but it looked like a drug overdose or poisoning of some sort.However, they would have to do an autopsy to be 100% certain.As they carried Henry away, everyone in the office gathered in the lobby in grievance for the old man.Babette and Ralph could not believe this happened; but at the same time, they were glad they would not have to do it, even though now estate taxes were going to eat into their money since the wedding had not taken place.

†††† After everything settled down in the office, Don asked Babette, Ralph, and John back into his office.He sat them down and said, "Look, I know this is not the best time to be discussing this, but we have some legal issues to take care of."

Babette immediately jumped in saying, "Henry handled his legal affairs with Ralph's firm. They have his will there.What do you need?"

Don replied, "Well, it's about time to burst your little bubble, Betty, or rather should I say, Babette! John you may proceed."

†††† John got out of his chair and began reading Babette and Ralph their Miranda Rights.

"What is going on! And John, who are you?" Ralph asked.

John responded by saying, "I am a special agent working undercover for the IRS.I have been working at your firm for the past five years, and I have found that you have been evading taxes and engaging in fraudulent activity for several years now. It's finally caught up to you, Mr. Richardson."

†††† Babette said, "Why am I under arrest? I've done nothing wrong and what about my inheritance from Henry?"

"Ma'am, you are not entitled to any of Henry's money and you are considered an accomplice to Ralph," John replied.He continued, "Don, explain this to Ms. Burchfield."

†††† Don began, "First of all, the changing of Mr. Herrington's will was unduly influenced; therefore, the validity of his will, will be challenged.Undue influence is excessive, improper pressure by another person."

†††† "I did not pressure Henry at all," she angrily replied.

†††† Don continued, "Well then, second, the changed will will be revocated by the physical act of Ralph's post-dating the will.Intentional, deliberate, burning, tearing, cancellation, obliteration, or destruction by the testator or another person, in the presence of and at the direction of the testator, or as provided for in a statute will cause the will to be invalid."

†††† "Finally if that's not enough evidence to get the two of you, Henry also signed a codicil in my office yesterday morning, which revokes the changed will at Ralph's firm.This codicil states that Mr. Herrington wills his entire fortune to charity, or specifically the Nature Conservatory."

†††† "I can't believe Henry knew all along," Ralph murmured disgustedly.

"Yes and best of all he died knowing the two of you would be getting what you deserved," Don replied.

†††† "Well, it sure is ironic that Henry died this morning," Ralph said.Don responded by saying, "Well, if it is an overdose, it wouldn't surprise me.Henry had just found out that he had cancer, and the doctors only gave him a couple of months to live.Henry told me several times that he didn't want to suffer like my dad did, who died from cancer several years ago."

†††† Just then, Babette had remembered that she had forgotten to take Henry's poisoned Ensure out of the fridge after Ralph had called her yesterday and told her to wait."How stupid," she thought and began trembling because if it somehow got traced back to them, the consequences were going to be quite a bit harsher for murder.Ralph looked over at Babette and noticed how pale she looked.He began wondering the same thing, "had she goofed?"They would just have to wait it out.

†††† "Okay, I think our meeting is over.John, I guess you can take these two over to the station and start the legal work.I need to settle Henry's affairs and make his funeral arrangements," Don said as they began to walk out of the office.

John looked back at Don and directing his comment specifically towards Ralph and Babette said, "Sounds great Don, and don't forget to contact the Nature Conservatory.I'm sure the folks over there will be ecstatic when they hear about the $2.4 billion dollar bequest that Henry left their organization."

†††† "I'll call right now," Don replied as John walked away, leading Babette and Ralph down the hall and into the life the two truly deserved. 

 


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