Posted on



What's that now? I have a rich, dead cousin?

So long, Cousin Al. It seems as if I hardly knew ya. Now, though, that I know you were filthy rich, well, it's really too bad we couldn't have spent more time together. Really, I would have had you over for a beer if I'd known sooner.

Truth is, until 10 minutes ago, I had no idea I even had a Cousin Alan. But then I got this e-mail out of the clear blue -- from an attorney, no less -- informing me that my Dear Cuz has left this life, and behind him sits a big pile of money that nobody seems to want.

Uhm, wait a sec, let's not be hasty here. I'd be more than willing to make sure that Cousin's Al's loot ends up where it belongs. In my checking account seems a logical place.

So here's the situation. Poor Cousin Alan -- who shared my last name and I'm thinking maybe even my genetic disposition toward high cholesterol -- was killed in a car accident nine years ago in Toronto, Canada. That darn Al, he liked those fast cars. I told him they'd catch up with him one day.

Cousin Alan was an independent oil magnate in Canada, I'm told, which I'd find more believable if he had lived in say, Saudi Arabia or Quatar, but well, whatever. Upon his death on those wild Toronto byways in 2011, he was worth $10,820,000, this lawyer tells me, and somehow, no one has come forth to claim it. Now that's a shame. Alan would be disappointed.

The lawyer says further, 'all our efforts to locate his relatives have proved abortive.' Wow. 'Abortive.' That's a serious word, telling me there's no way this could be anything but legitimate. Kinda gettin' excited now.

As luck would have it, the attorney contacted me now, just before Canada's abandoned property timeline of 10 years comes due. If I hadn't known about in time, the board of directors of the holding bank was just gonna seize the funds -- in the next 21 working days, no less -- giving me until the end of the month, by my count, to make my claim.

Hang on, Alan, I'm coming.

Now my lawyer says, 'since you share the same last name and nationality with the deceased,' that he can 'use a legal means' to name me the beneficiary of this estate. I'm sure he doesn't want to bore me with Canadian asset and estate laws or get into a long explanation of things I wouldn't understand anyway, so I guess as long as he can 'use a legal means' to get me my money, I won't ask any questions. I'll just presume that 'a legal means' does not involve firearms, hostages, or fraudulent international money laundering schemes. After all, I'd hate to lose my Canadian fishing privileges over a measly few million dollars.

By the way, if right now you're laughing at me and thinking I'm a gullible moron -- you seem to do that a lot lately -- I'll have you know that this letter from my lawyer is printed on a letterhead with an image of a blind Lady Justice holding a set of scales. Ain't no way that can be fake. Just sayin.' What's that? The law firm name. Yeah, sure, wouldn't you like to know?

And besides, my lawyer -- yeah, we've formed a pretty solid business bond in the last 15 minutes -- assures me this plan is '100 percent risk free as there will be no violation of any civil or criminal laws.' That's important, you know, 'cuz I'd hate to spend my last few good years in a Saskatchewan slammer, especially when Cousin Alan was such a lawabiding fellow. I mean, c'mon, an independent oil magnate? He had to have been clean.

Further legitimizing this proposed transaction is this: my lawyer wants only 45 percent of the money. I know, right? Is he k-k-krazy? That still leaves $4,869,000 for my 45 percent share, and since this guy's a big-shot attorney, I'm sure he can find a way to get me my cash free from U.S. income taxes. Oh, hush. Alan was a great guy. He'd have wanted it that way.

I know, I know, you're thinking the math just don't add up, and you're right, 45 percent plus 45 percent is only 90. But get this, the other 10 percent? To charity. My attorney's idea. What a guy, huh? I mean, just think, 10 percent of $10,820,000 to the local humane society shelter, heck, they could buy enough Milk Bones to last a hundred years. That kinda chokes me up. Alan loved puppies, you know.

I probably shouldn't even be telling you about this, because my lawyer says 'this transaction is strictly confidential and shall not be shared with a third party without my approval.' Shared with a third party? Is he nuts? Heck, I haven't shared so much as a dried bread crumb with the birds in my backyard, and he thinks I might give part of my $4,869,000 to somebody else? Well, sure, Alan probably would have. That's where we were different. He was a giver. I'm a taker. Probably explains why we never sent cards at Christmas. I kinda feel bad now that I didn't attend Alan's funeral or anything, but then, how was I to know? Our family is distant like that, we all just lead our solitary lives while our kinfolk are thousands of miles away doing their thing. Me and Alan, well, I sense we would've been pretty close, what with him having all that money and me wanting it. That may be the worse part of all of this. Had we stayed connected through the years, I'd have found a way to weasel my name into his will and we wouldn't need some lawyer in Toronto to facilitate this transaction. Darn fate. It always finds a way to keep me poor.

Well, I should get going now, I have to make a call to Toronto, because, as my lawyer says, 'Your earliest response to this matter would be greatly appreciated.' We do have that deadline to meet, after all, and how sad would that be if I lost out on Big Al's money just because some paperwork was filed late. I can just see that board of directors of the holding bank, counting the days, waiting to get its grubby mitts on my dear late relative's loot. Those greedy thieves. They never knew Cousin Alan like I did.