An elderly man’s inheritance was not divided among family members. Instead, he gave them all to a fruit stall owner who lived near his home. Although the family members did their best to sue the man in court, the end of the battle touched the hearts of many people.
An 88-year-old man gave all his inheritance to a fruit stall owner near his home, instead of dividing them among his relatives. His home and life’s savings were worth nearly US $441,700.00. The elderly man and the stall owner were not related, but merely friends. Upon learning of the grandfather’s decision, the family sued the fruit stall owner in court.
The grandfather and the fruit stall owner were 2 strangers who met by chance. Living alone and being a senior citizen can be lonely, and when the two strangers met, both men built a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Although he was firm in a decision he made afterward, he was unaware of how his family would react to it which later led to a dispute in court.
The elderly man is Ma Lin, a native of Shanghai, though his neighbors call him Lao Ma. He is a retired veteran staff member of an organization and with good status. His personal life was unfortunate, though. His wife left him earlier in the marriage and his son is suffering from a mental illness that caused him to be bedridden.
After his wife left, there were many women in the community of the same age as he who chatted with Lao Ma but he instantly knew their intentions of crawling their way into his life because they knew that he had a generous pension. They also knew of his family inheritance, and he felt that the women had something different in mind rather than being a good partner to him.
There were times that some friends would introduce him to suitable women to be his wife, though Lao Ma assumed that falling in love immediately is unreliable, so he stayed single. Fortunately, he met a stranger who he did not expect to be his closest friend and who later stayed by his side when he needed it the most.
There is a fruit stall in the community where Lao Ma lives. The owner was a young man named You Jiguang. Next to his stall is a shed where he lived with his wife and three children. His eldest daughter leads the younger two while they play near the stall after school.
When Lao Ma has the time, he sits near the fruit stall and enjoys watching the children while they play. After a few days, the friendship between the stall owner and Lao Ma became stronger, and he learned that the owner’s nickname was Xiaoyou.
Longing for a family he used to have, Lao Ma became fond of Xiaoyou’s three children. He often buys them candy, snacks, and toys. Initially, Xiaoyou felt a little embarrassed. To return the favor, he would give some fruits to Lao Ma. At times when there were not many customers, Xiaoyou would chat with Lao Ma. He learned that his wife has left him, and he has a son who was sick and bedridden.
Since then, Xiaoyou took the initiative to help Lao Ma with household chores, and the fruit stall has become the elderly man’s favorite place to relax during the day.
In 2015, Lao Ma’s sick son suddenly passed away. At first, he did not notice that he was gone since he was always asleep. It was only when he tried to wake him up that Lao Ma felt he was as cold as a corpse and realized he was truly gone.
Lao Ma wanted to send his son to a funeral parlor, though there was no one around to help him. He remembered Xiaoyou nearby. When he arrived at the fruit stall, he informed Xiaoyou that his son passed away. Although he said the news calmly, Xiaoyou knew that Lao Ma was in mourning.
Xiaoyou did not hesitate to help Lao Ma with the funeral services, though when the vigil started, he noticed that there were only two of them during the wake. He asked Lao Ma if other relatives are arriving. The elderly man then sighed and admitted that his relatives have not been in contact with him for years.
Xiaoyou did not hesitate to help Lao Ma with his son’s funeral and even accompanied the elderly man to the cemetery to buy a place to bury his son. After the burial, Lao Ma was alone at home, and he was already 88-years-old. Xiaoyou was worried that Lao Ma lived alone, so he ensured the elderly man that he would visit him every day.
When the weather is good, Lao Ma reads the newspapers while at Xiaoyou’s fruit stand, enjoys watching his 3 children play, and goes home to sleep when he retires for the night.
Years have passed, and suddenly Lao Ma fell unconscious when he was at home. Luckily, Xiaoyou came for a visit and was able to save the elderly man’s life.
Noticing that Lao Ma’s condition was getting worse, Xiaoyou convinced Lao Ma several times to contact his sister, who lives in Hainan, but she said that Lao Ma’s wife was not in good health and could not live without someone to look after her, then hung up the phone.
Xiaoyou had no other choice but to take Lao Ma to the hospital and took the initiative to take care of the elderly man.
After nearly a month, Xiaoyou would get up at 5:00 every morning to deliver fruits to the stall and inform his wife to look after the fruit stand after sending the kids to school at 8:00. Xiaoyou would go to the hospital to tend to Lao Ma until past 9 in the evening. Then he would help his wife close the stall.
Lao Ma was able to recover under the care of Xiaoyou, but due to his old age, most of his body functions were deteriorating. Even after he recovers, there were still some consequences. The doctor advised him not to live alone.
Since Lao Ma was already living on his own, who could accompany him at home? The community learned of this and decided to arrange home care for Lao Ma, but he insisted that people who lived in the house may be envious of his property.
It was not surprising that Lao Ma had such a thought. It was true that people around him were concerned more about his property. People who chose to ignore him suddenly contacted him when they learned that he was hospitalized. They were urging him to make a will as soon as possible and hurrying him to clear things up about the house.
When Lao Ma learned of their intentions, he was very angry. These were the same relatives who chose to leave and never contacted him in the past years, ignored him when he was sick in the hospital, but now were urging him to make a will for the house.
Not accepting the caregivers provided by the community, Lao Ma still can not live alone. He already had a plan of his own. When he returned home, he immediately confided in Xiaoyou. In front of him, he left a bankbook, a real estate certificate, gold and silver jewelry left by his wife, and even an old pocket watch pendant left by his father. He decided to let Xiaoyou and his family live in his home and promised to give all the inheritance that he got from his ancestors to Xiaoyou’s daughter someday.
Xiaoyou was shocked. He did not realize that the elderly man would decide to give his inheritance to a family he just met. Xiaoyou took care of Lao Ma because he sympathized with him since he had no relatives. Additionally, Lao Ma was good to his children, though he never expected anything in return.
Initially, Xiaoyou refused, though Lao Ma rejected all the nurses and caregivers that the community helpers provided, and even turned away his niece and sister, who suddenly arrived upon hearing the news. He only wanted Xiaoyou’s help. In the end, Lao Ma invited Xiaoyou’s wife and 3 children to live in his home and built a new “family.”
Soon, the news about Xiaoyou inheriting all Lao Ma’s properties spread in the community. The head of the committee reminded Lao Ma that his house is worth nearly US $454,000.00 and persuaded him to bequeath it to someone worthy.
For Lao Ma, these millions worth of properties does not mean anything to him. “I can’t take them with me when I pass. If I want to pass them on to someone worthy, I will leave them to those who are really kind to me.” said the elderly man.
Lao Ma’s neighbor, who was a lawyer, noticed that he was determined to hand over his properties to Xiaoyou, and for him to inherit the properties legally, Lao Ma had to follow proper procedures.
“When the owner of the properties is still living, he/she must choose a trustworthy assistant to deal with his funeral
according to his own wishes.”
As soon as Lao Ma understood the procedures, he and Xiaoyou headed to the Shanghai Putuo Notary Office to apply for guardianship. As a guardian, Xiaoyou’s relationship as a beneficiary to Lao Ma will be legal and protected by law. In the future, Xiaoyou can represent his family when he is hospitalized. As soon as they sign the agreement, Xiaoyou will be the rightful person to handle all funeral formalities when Lao Ma passes away.
Not wasting any time, Lao Ma made his last will with the lawyer. When he passes, all funeral expenses and pensions will be given to Xiaoyou. Lao Ma has already bought a space in the cemetery in advance for his burial, so Xiaoyou need not spend a single cent. He reminded Xiaoyou to save the money for the children, and he signed the papers for the inheritance of the house. It states that the property will be handed over to his trusted friend, Xiaoyou when Lao Ma passes away.
After a few days, the story of Lao Ma and Xiaoyou was made into a local film entitled “Talking to Strangers.” After the film was released, it garnered strong opposing reactions, mostly from Lao Ma’s relatives. They were dissatisfied, especially his sister, who lives in Hainan.
Lao Ma’s sister and her daughter returned to Shanghai, where they found Xiaoyou speaking with a reporter. She said that she only learned of her brother’s decisions after they watched the film. According to Lao Ma’s sister, she did not ignore her brother as Xiaoyou has claimed and shown proof that she went to the hospital with some of his relatives when Lao Ma was sick. On the day the family visited, Lao Ma lost his temper during a conversation and drove them away. He had no more contact with them since.
Lao Ma’s sister also claimed that he was suffering from dementia. Hence, they were questioning his decision to give the properties to Xiaoyou. His sanity during the signing of the notarized documents needed to be verified, so with the validity of the documents signed by both parties.
Additionally, they claimed that Xiaoyou “planned” to take care of Lao Ma for his own intentions, and the elderly man has given Xiaoyou some of his savings before. Lao Ma’s properties belong to the family.
Originally, the property was a set of relocation houses, and they were all supposedly divided equally among Lao Ma and his brothers and sisters. When finally the property was distributed among them, Lao Ma had his own home. Now that he decided to pass it on to a person who was not related to him, his own relatives took this as an unfair decision.
In Xiaoyou’s defense, he claimed that Lao Ma’s sister and niece indeed visited the elderly man when he was in the hospital, though they were only simple visits, and most of the time, it was Xiaoyou who tended to Lao Ma when he was sick.
Xiaoyou also admitted that Lao Ma and his relatives were arguing after being discharged from the hospital. When they drove him away, they did not contact him or visit him at his home.
Xiaoyou revealed that he and his family lived with Lao Ma for 3 years. He ensured that Lao Ma did not starve, that he was well taken care of, and even cleaned his feces and urine when he was bedridden.
Lao Ma’s relatives had their own opinions while Xiaoyou had his. Though after meticulous analysis, pieces of evidence were coming to light, and the truth was gradually emerging.
According to the family’s statement, Lao Ma had Alzheimer’s disease in 2017 after he fell, though when the program was being recorded, Lao Ma’s words were clear and well-expressed. Although his face twitched uncontrollably, Lao Ma’s way of thinking was organized, with no signs of insanity. The old woman who wanted to marry him and his relatives who urged him to sign his will spoke of his mental illness, though they were proven otherwise.
From then on, it was proven that Lao Ma is not what his relatives say he is. Still, Lao Ma’s niece sued Xiaoyou and at the same time made a petition to determine that Lao Ma is a person with no capacity for civil conduct. His niece will prove in court that due to such an incapacity, the notarization of the intended guardianship between him and Xiaoyou is voided, and the property inheritance procedures with him are also invalid.
On May 18, 2021, the court agreed to Lao Ma’s niece’s appeal to identify Lao Ma as a person with no capacity for civil conduct but denied their appeal to reject the guardianship agreement and Lao Ma’s will. His relatives refused to believe this and vowed to continue with an appeal until the notarization expires.
Xiaoyou claims that he would never give up the promise made between him and Lao Ma, not even for the insistence of his relatives. He never expected anything in return when he tended to Lao Ma, and his relatives rarely visited him. None of them stayed to take care of the elderly man when he needed them.
As of late, Lao Ma’s mental state and his health are beginning to deteriorate, and he could not be left alone even for a minute. Xiaoyou started tending to Lao Ma’s round the clock and has turned over the fruit stall to his wife. He bought a military bed and situated it beside Lao Ma’s bed so he will be monitored 24/7.
At the same time, he also installed a CCTV at Lao Ma’s home so he would have proof to show the relatives that he does not abuse Lao Ma. This is to reassure everyone.
Although Lao Ma’s sanity was fluctuating, there was never a time that he did not recognize Xiaoyou. On the other hand, when relatives visited him and tried to make amends, he would yell at them and insist that they were only visiting to get his property. Even at times when he was delirious, he still remembers who was really good to him.
It has always been known that people are closer to friends than their own relatives. The bond between Xiaoyou and Lao Ma is very touching, and the mercenary mentality of relatives towards a family member who is about to pass makes people wonder if family respect still exists.
The relatives and Lao Ma have not had any contact for so many years. They also were aware that his wife has left him and his son has passed away. Lao Ma lived alone. When he was seriously ill, he may have fallen unconscious when no one was around. Xiaoyou found him in time and immediately sent him to the hospital.
After learning that Lao Ma was turning over his entire inheritance to a stranger, his relatives questioned his sanity and even gave him a psychiatric evaluation.
Chilling as it may seem, Lao Ma’s relatives continue to sue Xiaoyou in court. Despite this, he still never thought of destroying his friendship with Lao Ma since deep in his heart he knows that he never coveted the elderly man’s property even from the start.
Human nature is hard to understand since we can never take control of them, though a kind and a simple person will never be mistreated. Whether or not Xiaoyou will fully inherit Lao Ma’s properties by the end of the battle, his kind deeds to Lao Ma will be remembered by the elderly man forever.