Field Law Firm - January 2020

JANUARY 2020 818-369-7900

The Miller Family Farm A Lost Family Heirloom Notes FromThe Field

At a very young age, I came to understand the importance of legacy. Since before I can remember, my family would travel to Virginia to spend time at our family-owned (and built) farm, which we called the Miller family farm. Both the house and barn were built in the early 1900s by my great-grandfather, and he passed it on to my grandfather. My grandfather intended to pass down the property and home to the family, but it was lost forever after he passed away. I can remember spending time at the Miller family farm, helping with chores or listening to stories of my grandfather. My uncles would share stories about my grandpa running moonshine from a still he kept in the woods, how he spent quite a lot of time in the “pokey,” how he served our country in WorldWar I, how he was an avid softball player, and how he worked for the railroad. In the early ‘60s, my grandfather had a stroke and ended up in the hospital. My mom, aunt, and uncles didn’t think he’d recover enough to go back to work at the railroad because he had to take it easy. Eventually, he recovered and returned to work. After he retired from the railroad, he grew bored and planted a peach orchard. After I graduated high school, I went to the Miller family farm and spent an entire summer there helping him pick peaches, plums, and corn from the fields and orchards my grandfather had planted and nurtured. The farm was a source of belonging and family heritage to me I didn’t get from anywhere else. It was where my great-grandfather raised his family and my grandfather after him. It was where my grandfather helped his community by providing his neighbors with fresh fruits and vegetables from his field. The Miller family farm was a crucial part of our lives.

could be done. Being 3,000 miles away, I felt utterly helpless and angry the attorney brushed me off so carelessly. It was only years later that I realized the attorney had been wrong in many ways. We had many options open to us that would’ve allowed us to keep the farm. Every time my family and I go back to Virginia, we go out of our way to drive past the old house, which still stands. During the last family reunion, we had around seven years ago, the family even got together and took a picture in front of the house. It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that it is there but not in our family name. Losing the farm was a devastating blow to all of us; we had lost this symbol of our family heritage. Today, I find extreme satisfaction in my work, where I help people create estate plans to protect their families and pass on their family legacy. I want to make sure no one else suffers through an experience like that whether they be my own children or clients.

In 1992, my grandfather’s health began to decline. He was 91 at the time, and nearby family did their best to help him as much as they could. My aunt carried the bulk of the responsibility to care for him, but when she had a stroke and passed away, the family was in dire straits. No one wanted to move my grandfather into a nursing home as he had told several family members he wanted to pass away in the Miller family home. But, with no one able to care for him at the house, my uncles decided to move him into a nursing home. My uncles, who were responsible for my grandfather’s affairs, were then faced with a dilemma. Their attorney informed them that to pay for my grandfather’s expected long- term expenses, they had to sell the Miller family farm. Thinking they had little choice, my uncles sold the farm, and six weeks after leaving his home, my grandfather passed away. Both my grandfather and the Miller family farm were gone. When I learned about this, I was heartbroken. I called the attorney who was assisting my uncles and was told that it was too late and nothing | 1

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