The Boston Globe featured an article written by reporter Maria Cramer on its front page discussing the devastating effects of passing away without a will, or any estate planning documents, has had on a decedent’s step-daughter, Marcelle Harrison, a client of Long Hagan Huff-Harris, and her family. Without a last will and testament in place, Marcelle and her family are at risk of losing their family’s Cambridge residence that over three generations have called home since 1980. The family now looks to the help of donations and support from their community to preserve ownership of the house. With a booming real estate market in Cambridge, the family can not do this alone. The family has set up a GoFundMe page here. Please support them in their struggle to keep the family together under one roof.
The case hinges on a centuries-old law known as intestate, which generally favors blood relatives over relationships formed through time and mutual affection. Had Richlene Aimes died after her husband, the house would unquestionably belong to Harrison, said James Gardner Long III, Harrison’s lawyer. But without a will, Harrison’s status as a stepdaughter makes her essentially a stranger to Noel Aimes, whom she bathed and fed as he became more and more infirm from diabetes, he said.
“There are no feelings, no empathy in [the law],” Long said. “It doesn’t say you’ve put all this time and energy into the home. It just looks at the kinship chart.”
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