Robert Thornhill
Lady Justice and the Living Trust


Lady Justice and the Living Trust

       On his deathbed, the ninety-year-old former bookkeeper for the Kansas City mafia names Walt as the successor trustee on his Living Trust.

    An unsuspecting Walt soon discovers that his duties include keeping an eye on the heirs who must complete some very specific tasks before claiming their inheritance.

    When things start to go south, Walt soon learns that the heirs will resort to anything, including murder, to get their hands on their grandfather’s money.

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    John Williams and Bernice Crenshaw climbed into their car and headed to the Senior Center as they did every Wednesday for the afternoon Tea Dance.

    As they pulled into the parking lot, a group of the regular attendees were milling around the entrance to the building, some obviously upset.

    “Wonder what’s going on,” John said as they approached a small group of their friends.

    “There’s Myrtle,” Bernice replied. “She’ll probably know.”

    “Myrtle,” John said, “what’s all the hubbub?”

    “It’s Cosmo,” Myrtle replied, wringing her hands. “He was at the check-in desk paying his fee when he just collapsed. Alice called 911. The ambulance took him to the hospital about twenty minutes ago.”

    “Geez, that’s rough,” John replied. “How old was Cosmo?”

    “He’d just turned ninety,” Myrtle replied. “In fact, we were going to sing Happy Birthday to him today. We even baked him a cake.”

    At that moment, John’s cell phone buzzed.

    “John. This is Lou Gallo. Have you heard about Cosmo?”

    “Yes, Bernice and I just arrived at the Senior Center. Myrtle Mincus told us. How’s he doing?”

    “He’s stable for the moment. Looks like he had a mild heart attack. He’d like to talk to you. Can you come to the hospital? He’s in the Intensive Care Unit at St Luke’s.”

    “Uhhh, I guess we could. What’s this about?”

    “Just come. I’ll tell you when you get here --- and hurry!”



    Lou met John and Bernice in the lobby.

    “Come with me,” he said. “I’ve cleared everything with the nurses.”

    Lou led them to one of the cubicles where they found Cosmo conscious, but obviously not comfortable. An oxygen mask covered his face.

    “Hey, Cosmo,” John said, taking his old friend’s hand. “You’re missing your birthday cake and messing up our tea dance. What gives?”

    Cosmo smiled and tried to remove the oxygen mask, but he was just too weak.

    “Thanks for coming,” Lou said. “It’s very important to Cosmo. He has a request.”

    “Sure,” John replied. “What can I do?”

    Lou took a deep breath. “As you may know, I’ve been Cosmo’s attorney for many years. I prepared his Living Trust many years ago and have revised it several times as circumstances changed in his life.

    “When his wife, Catherine, passed away, his son, Cosmo Jr. was designated as his successor trustee. Several years ago, Cosmo Jr. and his wife were killed in an auto accident. The loss was devastating. At that time Cosmo didn’t name a replacement successor trustee.

    “That was obviously an oversight, and I should have hounded him until he named a replacement, but --- time passes and I just never did. Now, with this latest turn of events, we have to act and do so quickly.”

    “I can certainly understand that,” John replied. “How can I help?”

    “Cosmo wants you to be his successor trustee.”

    John’s mouth dropped open. “Me? Look, Lou, I want to help, but I’m ninety-five myself for chrissakes!” He pointed to Cosmo. “That could be me tomorrow. I might not be around long enough to get the job done. Why not you or another relative?”

    “I’m not in the best of health either,” Lou replied. “His only other living relatives are his three grandchildren, and unfortunately, none of them are even remotely qualified to handle his estate.”

    Cosmo had summoned enough strength to slip off his oxygen mask. He took a deep breath. “John, I understand, but I need someone I can trust. Do you think Walt would do it? Would he be my successor trustee?”

    “That would be perfect,” Lou said. “If I remember correctly, Walt’s wife, Maggie, is a real estate agent. The house would have to be sold. The two of them could work on it together.”

    “Well,” John replied, thinking, “I’ll certainly ask him.”

    Lou shook his head. “There’s no time for that.” He looked at Cosmo and a tear rolled down his cheek. “The doc says that if our friend has another attack, it could be his last. He may not even make it through the night.”

    John was confused. “If I can’t ask him, what should we do?”

    Lou opened his briefcase and pulled out a legal document. “If you think you can persuade Walt to agree, I have the necessary paperwork right here. Cosmo can sign the declaration naming Walt as his successor trustee. Then you can go home and talk to Walt. If Cosmo makes it through the night and Walt won’t help, we can look elsewhere. But if Cosmo doesn’t make it, at least we’ve done what we can. What do you think?”

    John looked into his old friend’s pleading eyes. “Let’s do it! Walt will understand.”