In Search of an Education Program
Part 1 - Benjamin the Munificent
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." 1 Corinthians 13
It was at the State Convention in Pasadena in May 1995 that Kibitzer first learned of an Assyrian named Benjamin S. Adams. He had died in Tucson, Arizona, on April 12, 1995. The word was that he had left a large part of his estate to several Assyrian organizations, to be used for the "welfare and education" of our people.
Unlike other nationalities or ethnic groups, Assyrians do not have much of a philantropic history. If for no other reason, therefore, this angel deserves a very special salute for his evident Assyrian social consciousness.
Mr. Adams did receive some kudos via a cover story and pictorial featured in NINEVEH Quarterly (Third Quarter 1995, pp.4-7). Clearly, one hungers to learn more of this man's life and vision. But a more substantial biography is unlikely to appear. Hence, those wishing a general introduction to Mr. Adams should send for a copy of this publication at:
My suggestion is that you enclose $10 with your request, to help cover costs of this unique Assyrian periodical.
Although early newsleaks about the Adams bequest were quite vague, visions quickly dangled in our head on the creative uses for such funds. But at that point, Kibitzer did not know the amount of the donation, nor the identity of those who had been entrusted with disbursing it.
In the past few months, several Assyrians have asked us questions on this subject. They too had vaguely heard of Adams' bequest. They assumed that with his legal background, we might provide them more details. These inquiries led us to take a closer look at Mr. Adams' unprecedented gesture. Recently, we obtained a copy of the Will which Benjamin Adams executed on December 5, 1994. Just a few weeks after making his Will, Mr. Adams also executed an amendment (called a "First Codicil") on January 16, 1995.
Kibitzer will address Mr. Adams' gift in greater detail in a subsequent column. For now, let's cover some basic points.
(1) The Will.
This is a statement which speaks as of the moment of death. As such, it is an instrument which can be revoked or amended so long as the Will maker is alive.
(2) The Codicil.
A person who makes a Will one day may want to change it the next day, or at any other time. The Will may be totally replaced with a new Will; or it may be "amended" or "supplemented" with a Codicil. When the Will is 14-pages long, as it is here, then it is usually simpler to amend it with a Codicil, which will be a shorter document.
(3) The Place Where the Will is Administered.
The administration of Wills is governed by the laws of each State, and not by federal law. In most states, the original copy of the Will (and of any "Codicil" which may exist) must be filed with the Clerk of the Court in the jurisdiction where the individual resided. Mr. Adams was a resident of Tucson (Pima County), Arizona. Hence, that is where his Will was filed.
(4) Once Filed, a Will is a Public Document.
Once a document such as a Will is filed, the public may inspect the original, and it may purchase photocopies of the original from the Clerk of the Court.
Normally, once a Will is filed with the Court, a legal process begins which is known as "probate". The person who initiates such a proceeding is the "executor" named in the Will. The probate permits the executor to pay all of the debts of the deceased, to discharge all tax obligations of the estate and, after paying all probate fees, to distribute the remainder of the estate according to the will of the deceased.
(6) Inventory & Appraisement.
The executor obtains an inventory of the estate, and the appraised value of all items. This must include not only cash and securities, but also real estate and personal items (such as furniture, etc.). The appraisement is necessary for the preparation of tax returns, to determine legal and administrative fees, and in making the final distribution.
The estate of Mr. Adams was appraised at $1,481,836. In the next column, we will examine how Mr. Adams directed for the distribution of this estate.
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