Intestate Succession

The cats have consulted a bankruptcy attorney and return home quite discouraged. Of their debts totaling $44,000, approximately $17,000 is not dischargeable.

I tell the cats that an envelope has arrived from a law firm in Seattle, but they are reluctant to open it, fearing that it contains another demand for payment. I open it for them, and inside I find a cover letter and a notice from a Washington probate court. An elderly relative of the cats has died, leaving a substantial estate but no will.  The cats have received a notice that they are among the heirs who will share in the estate.

It turns out that the Old Tom fathered 16 kittens with four cats, and it is one of these four cats who has died, leaving an estate of approximately $240,000 acquired through a career in advertising with a cat food company.  The Old Tom was able to provide information about the four kittens that he sired with this cat. Of the four, one died kittenless in the cruel back alleys of Seattle. Two survive and lead comfortable lives in homes in the greater Seattle area.  The fourth cat also died after raising three kittens, one of whom died leaving four kittens. Boris and Natasha are the remaining two offspring of the fourth cat.  

Each of my cats is therefore entitled to one-ninth of the estate.

After payment of attorney fees and court costs and satisfaction of a few claims of creditors, approximately $200,000 will remain for distribution among the heirs. Each of my cats will receive approximately $22,000. They will be able to satisfy their debts without filing bankruptcy. I mention that I would like to get back the $1,500 that I loaned to them to file bankruptcy, but the cats inform me that they signed a retainer agreement with their bankruptcy attorney agreeing that the entire fee was earned upon receipt. They assure me that I have nothing to worry about as they will soon be flush, once again.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973.  His practice areas include business law, real estate, estate planning and elder law.

© Allen Drescher