"You may go in Mr. Connor."
It started with a certified letter that the postman delivered to my home. After signing for the letter, I took it inside and opened it.
Mr. Jebidiah Connor:
The Last Will and Testament of the late Mr. Charles Connor has named Mr. Jebidiah Connor, the grandson of Mr. William Connor, as one of the beneficiaries of Mr. Charles Connor's estate.
Please contact this office at (123) 555-6798 if you are Mr. Charles Connor's great nephew and wish to claim the inheritance specified for you in Mr. Connor's Will.
Samuel Timmons Barnes, Carrol, Lathrup, and Associates Attorneys at Law
My dad was upset with his family because of their objection to him marrying my mom. This letter was a complete surprise to me for I could not recall either of my parents ever mentioning dad's father or his father's brother.
I called the number in the letter for two reasons. First of all, while I was not poor, I also wasn't rich. I will admit to a degree of avaricious, which is why I felt that if he wanted me to have something, the least I could do was to find out what he had left me. The second and main reason was I was curious about my dad's family.
I had met my grandfather and grandmother on my Mom's side of the family. I knew that I had a few distant relations on her side of the family, but they didn't keep in touch with Mom. I had never met them, and after Mom died, I had no contact information for them.
Since dad was estranged from his dad, no one ever mentioned dad's family, so I assumed they were dead also. However, alive or dead, they were nothing but strangers to me, and although I was curious, I had no way to contact them.
"You have reached the Law Office of Barnes, Carrol, Lathrup, and Associates. Carol Hart speaking, how may I help you?"
"Good morning Carol, my name is Jebidiah Connor. I received a letter from your office regarding the estate of Mr. Charles Connor that instructed me to call this number."
"Yes sir, Mr. Connor. Mr. Connor's estate is being handled by one of our associates, a Mr. Samuel Timmons. If you will please hold, I will connect you to his extension."
"Good morning this is Sam Timmons, how can I help you?"
"Good morning Mr. Timmons, my name is Jebidiah Connor.
"I received a letter from your office regarding the estate of a Mr. Charles Connor. I am the grandson of Mr. William Connor. My father, James Connor, has been estranged from his father, William Connor, since before my birth. It wasn't until after my mom and dad's deaths, that I learned my grandfather's name from my dad's birth certificate. Am I the person you are trying to locate?"
"It appears that you are indeed the individual that we are trying to contact. If you can forward a copy of your dad's birth certificate and your birth certificate to my attention, I will be able to determine if you are the great nephew of Mr. Charles Connor.
"However, based on what you have told me, I believe that you are Mr. Connor's great nephew. Once I receive the birth certificates, I can verify that belief and I can then officially inform you that you are indeed the beneficiary named in the Will.
"For our discussion today, let us assume that you are the beneficiary named in the Will. There are a few stipulations in the Will that you must meet in order to be eligible to claim your inheritance. The first stipulation is that you must be present at the reading of the Will, which will occur here in my office starting promptly at 9:00 AM on the 24th of this month; that is Friday of next week. The second stipulation is that you must provide proof that you are the person identified in the Will at the time the Will is to be read. Your driver's license and the original birth certificates of your father and you, or a notarized copy of the certificates, will be adequate proof. The third stipulation is that you must be in my office before the time the Will is due to be read."
"Thank you Mr. Timmons, I can email a scanned copy of the two birth certificates to you today. Will that be adequate?"
"Yes, a scanned copy is adequate for today. However, for the reading of the Will, you need to have your driver's license or other legal proof of your identity and the original birth certificates that define you as the grandson of William Connor.
"I will forward a letter to you once I have verified that you are one of the beneficiaries providing you with the time, date, and address of the place where the reading of the Will is to occur and a written copy of the stipulations we discussed."
"Mr. Timmons, I don't want to seem mercenary about this, but I live in a city outside Seattle, Washington and I will need to take time off from work to attend the reading of the Will, and my boss will not be pleased if I do so. Is my share of the estate worth the cost, time, and effort for me to travel to Chicago, and to endure the displeasure of my boss, which will probably last for a couple of weeks?"
"Mr. Charles Connor was a multimillionaire, so I believe that your portion of the estate will more than compensate you for your attendance.
"I should also inform you that Mr. Connor made provisions for the cost of travel, lodging, and meals for the beneficiaries to attend the reading of the Will. We can discuss that once I have verified that you are a beneficiary."
I sent off the scans of the birth certificates to Mr. Timmons, and two days later, he contacted me.
"Mr. Connor, this is Sam Timmons. I received your email and I have confirmed that you are Mr. Connor's beneficiary. When we finish talking, I will have our secretary Mrs. Carol Hart take down the information necessary for her to make your flight reservations, and she will provide you with your lodging and the other information you will require.
"I feel that is only fair of me to inform you of certain information relating to our client Mr. Charles Connor, as the other beneficiaries are very familiar with him and his opinions. The other beneficiaries believe he was a crotchety, vindictive old man. They know that he abhorred people who were tardy for appointments. He frequently informed the other beneficiaries that they would one day wish that they had been on-time."
"Thank you for that information Mr. Timmons. I will be certain to be in your office before 9:00 AM."
I was right about my boss. He was not happy when I told him there had been a death in my family and I needed to be in Chicago early Friday morning. Thursday morning, I was on a flight to O'Hare Airport. By 3:00 PM, I was in my room at the Courtyard by Marriott Chicago Magnificent Mile. That is one long name for a hotel, but it was a very nice hotel in my opinion. I decided to take a walk and locate Mr. Timmons' office, since he had informed me that I would be within walking distance of his office. His office was on St. Claire Street and he was right; it was just a short walk. Since I was there, I decided to go up to the office and introduce myself to Mr. Timmons.
"Good afternoon, I'm Jebidiah Connor. Would you be Carol?"
"Yes I am, and it is nice to meet you Mr. Connor. Was Mr. Timmons expecting you?"
"No he wasn't. I just wanted to make sure that I knew how to get here, so I wouldn't be late tomorrow morning. I also thought that I might introduce myself to Mr. Timmons, but that isn't a necessity for I imagine he is busy."
"That is not a problem Mr. Connor; I think Sam would be happy to meet you. Just a moment.
"Sam, Mr. Jebidiah Connor is in the reception area. He thought it might be a good idea to introduce himself before the meeting tomorrow."
"Come with me Mr. Connor."
I followed Carol down the hall. She knocked on a door and ushered me into a very nice office.
"Ah, it is good to meet you Mr. Connor. We like to be informal in the office, so I generally go by Sam."
"It is nice to meet you Sam; most people call me Jeb. I don't want to take up your time needlessly. As I told Carol, I was just making sure I could locate your office for tomorrow."
"That's no problem Jeb; please take a seat. In fact, it may be a good thing you came by today. Your great uncle was a stickler for punctuality. The third stipulation in the Will is that you must be in my office before the start of the reading of the Will. Mr. Connor indicated that that stipulation would be satisfied by any visit to my office within 24 hours of the reading of the Will. Do you happen to have the birth certificates with you today?"
"No, I left them in my suitcase."
"Alright, just be sure to bring them with you tomorrow, and to be here before 9:00 AM. I might add that you may encounter the other beneficiaries at the Marriot, and it would be in your best interests to avoid them and not mention being a beneficiary."
"Alright, but I am not sure why that is important."
"It isn't important, just a piece of advice. You will understand tomorrow when you meet them at the reading of the Will. I would appreciate it if you do not mention our conversations to the other beneficiaries."
"Alright Sam, I had best let you get back to work. I'll see you tomorrow morning."
"See you then Jeb."
Since I wasn't familiar with Chicago or the local area, I decided to return to my hotel for the night. Coming into the lobby, I decided to stop at the lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail.
.... There is more of this story ...