Resurrection 44Posted: November 23, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
Jack Thornton held the report from Bob Phillips in his hand. It was in paper only, and this was the only copy. He would make two copies. One he would give later to Jon Langford. The other he would place in his “insurance” file, just in case he needed leverage at some point against either of the Langford’s. Otherwise no one, even his staff, would be aware of its existence. He had made Bob delete the file as he watched from Bob’s computer. He wondered if Bob kept copies too, but there was no way to avoid using someone, and Jack had a much more incriminating file on Phillips anyway.
Thornton and Phillips had not broken any laws. Not really. Phillips could technically be charged for identity theft, for impersonating a government official. It would fall under Kentucky’s identity theft law, but it would not stick any more than a traffic ticket. Jack had never seen anyone charged under Kentucky Revised Statute § 514.160 unless they had used it for financial gain or in conjunction with more serious offenses.
Thornton picked up his personal cell and dialed Jon Langston.
“Jon, I have the information I told you about at the office the other day.”
“I see, and should I plan to come by your office today?” replied Jon.
“Yes, but first I will be meeting with your father. I’ll call you when I’m back here.”
Next Jack called Dick Langford. Dick asked him to come right away to Langford Farms.
Jack collected Langford’s will and trust documents as well as the report from Bob, and placed them in the Sterling & Burke briefcase he had made for him the last time he was in London, and headed off to the Farm.
“What do you have for me, Jack?” asked Langford when Thornton entered the study. Dick was sitting at his desk. Thornton handed over the file.
“As you can see there, Mr. Langford, we were able to locate Romona Farmer. She still lives in Inez. She did not have one child, but twins. One she gave up for adoption, one she kept. The one she kept, named Richard Farmer, still lives in Inez. The one put up for adoption was adopted by an Edward and Magnolia Reeves, of Silerville. They named him John Wesley Reeves. He is now a local minister at the First United Methodist Church in Silerville. He is married and has one child of his own.”
“Very good work, Jack.”
“Thank you, Mr. Langford.”
Langford stood up and walked over to the bank of windows overlooking the farm. He was silent for several minutes. Thornton did not speak either. He is aware that often his “research” created situations where his clients had to consider potential courses of action and often took time to weigh the options. Having not one, but two, living children was a surprise to Langford and he would need to think carefully through the implications of whatever option he chose to take.
“What is the approximate value of my estate,” asked Langford, still facing the windows.
“The total value of the estate is about $100 million, I can get you the exact figure if you need me to Sir.”
“And approximately how much of my estate is in cash?”
Thornton knew that by cash he meant “liquid assets” including cash, stocks and easily liquidated assets. “I can’t give the exact number, but it is somewhere around $10 million dollars.”
“And if I die today, Jon inherits the entire trust?”
“Yes, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, if you passed today, Jon would inherit everything. If he predeceases you, it would go to Trevor. Jon is the ‘named beneficiary,’ meaning it is not a general assignment the way it would be if we said ‘to my natural born children’ but it goes specifically to Jon.”
Langford was quiet again for a few minutes. He returned to his desk and sat down.
“Here is what I want you to do, Jack. I want to amend my will and the details of my trust to give these two children, the ones born to Romona Farmer, each 1/3 of the cash in my estate. Jon and these two children are to each share equally in the cash portion of the estate. I don’t want them named specifically in the will, I just want my ‘naturally born children’ added.”
“I can certainly amend the documents to say so, sir.” Thornton considered his next statement carefully. “Mr. Langford, as your lawyer, may I ask you a question?”
“What would that be, Jack?”
“What goal are you trying to accomplish here? Since you have never met these children, now men, what is your objective?”
“To cleanse my soul.”
“I see, I will make the changes.” He had thought about offering to give the twins a lifetime income via an annuity. It would leave more cash in the estate and Jon would appreciate Jack saving him some money. But Jack realized this wasn’t a logical, reasoned financial decision for Langford. It was personal. This is not the kind of thing you can reason about with a client.
“That will be all, Jack. I want the papers amended and you back here in the morning to have them signed and notarized. I want it done immediately.”
Jack returned to his office and handed the files to Mary, detailing in her private office the changes he needed made.
“And Mary,” he added once he had finished, “no one, even other staff, are to know about these changes. From now on Mr. Langford’s files on this matter stay locked in your desk. I want you to make these changes yourself.”
The job of an attorney is to translate into legalese what the client wishes to have done. In this case, the clear intention was for each of Langford’s children to share equally in the cash portion of the estate. Normally this would also be done pre stripes, and if one or both of them predesceased Langford, the money would go to their heirs.
That would not be in Jon’s best interest, it would cost him about $6.7 million upon his father’s death.
At this point, Jack wanted to make sure he did everything he could to make himself indispensable to Jon. Instead of doing exactly what Langford had intended, he had instructed Mary to make an adjustment: He asked her to add to the will his natural born, living children. This gave Jon options.
Jack was aware he probably just ended the lives of two men.