Well, Dearly Beloved, I have failed.
You may recall that, when Jim died, he left a Will that was invalid. He printed it out from his computer and signed it without witnesses. Note to all and sundry: if you want to make a Will without witnesses, please remember that it has to be hand-written, not typed or printed from a computer. What he wanted in his Will was for me to have everything but the antiques, which I was to get (somehow) to his nephew. He also wanted me to administer his nephew's trust fund, which Addy had set up so that he wouldn't get it until he was 35.
Thanks to Anna Nicole Smith and the offspring of the billionaire she married, Texas has a relatively new inheritance law. In the event that a person dies intestate, his estate gets split between the widow and the nearest blood kin. Works pretty well for the children of billionaires, but not so much for me. What it means is that everything has to be split with Jim's brother. Now, Jim's brother was specifically written out of Addy's Will, because she had thrown him out of the family for various breaches of the Prior Family Rules (whatever they were). I have only met the man twice, the second time being at Jim's memorial, when he promised not to give me a hard time. When I finally got around to thinking about that, I wondered what there was for him to give me a hard time about. I have since found out.
I tried to make a deal with him, whereby he would get the antiques and Addy's vehicles, and I would get the house. I let his son know about that, and he (William Prior) told me that he didn't want his dad (brother John) to have control of his trust fund, for fear John would gut it.
So, now we had two problems. First, a lot of the Prior Stuff was in storage, and John agreed to pay for that. He was supposed to come down that Thanksgiving (I think it was two years ago) to inspect the vehicles and the storage and take over the keys, etc. In short, get this all wrapped up legally. We were swamped at work, so we had to work through Thanksgiving break that year. He kept calling me and trying to set up a meeting, and I couldn't even answer the phone. Well, that, and I have trouble taking to him...he sounds just like Jim and it is hard for me not to trust that voice. So I was emailing him to tell him I couldn't make the meeting. As well, I wanted to stall on signing anything until William hit that 35 mark and could control his own trust. That happened last year. Meanwhile, John didn't pay the storage, so the storage company was threatening to auction off the stuff. I managed to (with help from William) make some arrangements to avoid that, but the person who helped didn't want John to know. Fine. I went along with that, as well.
So, due to my very low income, there are a lot of programs to help with the house--upgrading and repairing, etc. Jim, of course, cancelled the homeowners' insurance in a fit of "economy," so there were a lot of repairs needed, and no insurance to cover them. The only snag is that I have to own the house in order for that to happen. Of course, the house is not even in Jim's name--he never transferred the deed from Addy's. In my name, I could have got a reverse mortgage and taken care of the taxes and been cozy.
With the county and the school district after me for taxes, the house needs to be sold or put in my name, so John managed to get control of it (being as it's half his and all), and we are now being evicted.
We are faced with the herculean task of separating our stuff from Prior Stuff, and finding a place to live, when under an eviction notice, and with a bankruptcy in the family, not to mention a surfeit of pets.
Of all the thoughts and projections I had for the future, both when I married Jim and even after he died, the thought of being on the street with less than I had going into the relationship was nowhere in my mind.
William said he would help me when he got his trust (kept safe from John, no thanks to him), but his help turned out to be the offer of a weekend seminar on how to let go of past anger and bring a more positive attitude to the present and future. Not exactly what I needed.
So, if anyone has a rent house or mobile home, or anything, or knows someone who does, please let me know ASAP. It's not just me, it's Chandra and Aidan as well, plus half a dozen cats. Val and Lee are staying here, too, with three dogs and some caged rodents.
Thank you, John Prior, and thank you too, Texas. Oh, and Special Thanks to Jim--the coward with the gun.