In Pima County, Arizona, there is a process and law whereby, the county can literally take the property and belongings of loved ones of the deceased. In some states, there is a homestead provision, so that families can automatically receive property when their family member passes away.
Recently, I witnessed this first-hand. An elderly couple passed away. The husband passed away first, and less than a year later, the wife joined him. They had three children, two sons and one daughter. The daughter had passed away years ago due to drowning. When I spoke with an employee of the Office of the Pima County Fiduciary, he had the audacity to say that their office was “representing” the elderly couple. I remember thinking, “But they are dead. How can you be representing therm?”I learned later that they had taken control of the couple’s assets, and proceeded to have an estate sale consisting of all of the personal belongings of the couple as well as the house itself, despite the fact that the house was paid for.
How could this happen? Apparently, the couple did not leave a will. I am sure that they assumed that all of their earthly goods would go to their next of kin, automatically. But, without a will, at least in Pima County, that is not the case. And, in my opinion, it is the equivalent of theft under the guise of representing the interests of the decedents. Were that couple truly being “represented”, you can be assured that their sons would have rightfully obtained every thing which they owned, for they loved the two of them dearly.
This process should be in place for those who pass away without any rightful heirs by blood, not just based upon the lack of a will. Next of kin literally means nothing at all. This is legalized theft, which fills the coffers of the county, and it should not be allowed to continue.
At the end of the estate sale, the father’s momentos were tossed into the trash by those who were running the sale. Why do that? Their was no consideration for what might have been important to their children.
This process needs to be revised in order to pass along the property and belongings of a decedent to the family, will or no will.