It certainly pays to be nice to your neighbors.
For more than 40 years, Renate and Alfred Wedel lived quietly in a large house with extensive grounds in Waldsoms, Germany, a leafy village north of Frankfurt. Alfred, a self-employed stockbroker, died in 2014 at age 88. On Christmas Eve in 2020, Renate followed him, at age 81.
Little was known about them until this past December when the couple’s holiday surprise was delivered to their town: an inheritance of $7.5 million in stocks, property, and other valuables. Renate’s final wishes to her fellow residents were for them to use the money for “community facilities and infrastructure.”
There’s already talk of using the windfall for better playground equipment, bike trails, and improved public transportation connections for older people—and widespread gratefulness to their unexpected benefactors.
“The community of Waldsolms posthumously thanks the Wedel couple for this important inheritance,” a statement from the town’s leaders read. “We will deal with it very responsibly, develop our community for the good of all, and keep an honorable memory of both.”
According to the local Hessenschau news outlet, Waldsoms’ mayor may still be recovering from the shock from seeing his former neighbors’ generous donation.
“I thought a comma slipped,” Bernd Heine said.
About the Author:
John O’Grady leads a full-service estate and trust law firm in San Francisco. His practice includes Estate Planning & Administration, Probate and Trust Litigation.