My father, Thom Horgos, passed away Thanksgiving day, 2014. He suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly. He was 57 years old. His sudden and unexpected death was unbearably painful, and a catastrophe for my family. Not only did his death wreak emotional havoc on our family, it left us without control of our family’s financial assets. Though it has been three years since my Dad died, his estate is in the hands of the executor, and has not been probated. As a result of our frozen estate, we are on the brink of losing our home and cannot afford to live.
Not long before my father’s death, my mother, Wendy Leppert-Horgos, my brother, Josef Horgos, and I left our home in Salt Lake City, UT, and moved to State College, PA, to support my father’s small business. The move meant that we were entirely dependent on my father, and 1,800 miles from our closest family and friends. The shock of my father’s death left us paralyzed, in a place that is foreign to us without him.
The need to resolve the estate has kept us in State College for the past three years with our assets frozen. We were able to live for a short time with help from a modest life insurance policy, but that money has been gone for some time. And it appears the estate may not be probated any time soon.
My mother has been compromised by intense chronic pain as a result of Thoracotomy surgery in 2007, and was diagnosed with acute degenerative disc disease 2 years ago; she has lost feeling in her left arm. We cannot afford to have her out of commision for the 3 month recovery period that the surgery would require.
In leaving Salt Lake City, my Mom left behind a long and thriving career, and contributed her assets to help build the family business. She has desperately tried to find a job she can perform with her physical limitations, but in a small city, with few connections, she has had no luck. With each expense we are unable to pay, the feeling of helplessness ruins her. Expenses like medical bills from my emergency hospitalization (we did not have medicaid at the time), our only car needing repairs, and home repairs, are not inconveniences, they are disasters.
My brother Josef has delayed his college education, instead he is working a full-time, low-wage job to help pay our living expenses. I had to defer attendance at the University of Utah, and I am unable to work due to a recent knee surgery (paid for by medicaid). Both of us want nothing more than to start our lives, but we are stuck without resources, trying to keep the family and house afloat.
We are struggling to pay even the most basic living expenses. We recently qualified for food stamps, which have kept us fed, but the stress of unpaid and unpayable expenses, and our isolation are weighing heavily on us. We are making a desperate attempt to raise funds by selling our belongings to keep from losing our home—but this has not been enough.
When my Dad died, many of you asked us if there was any way you could help my family; we didn’t have an answer then, but we do now. Though we will face the pain of losing our Dad forever, your support will help us recover from the crushing blow it dealt our future, and help us face a future without him. Whether you’re a family member, friend, acquaintance or someone I have yet to meet - we need your help.
We will need $40,000 to save our home and get our family back on track. The funds will be used to complete repairs on our home, bring the mortgage current, provide basic living expenses, and help us relocate. Any amount will be deeply appreciated.
If you will, please share our story.
Posted On Christmas Day, 2017
Many of you have reached out to us asking for clarification about our complicated situation. When I created this campaign, I endeavored to keep the narrative free of negativity. I also avoided blaming any individuals for our crisis. Consequently, we excluded specific details in our story that could be interpreted as condemning or resentful. We wanted to take the high road. Unfortunately, by omitting these details, a clear picture of our story did not emerge. This update is designed to fill in some of the gaps in our initial story in order for our supporters to fully understand our situation. Providing this information now does not bring me joy but, unfortunately, I have no choice than to do so.
When my father passed away in 2014, my grandfather in Salt Lake City was named the executor of my father’s estate. Both my mother and father had entrusted him with this duty before my father passed on. As my mother, brother, and I undertook the difficult task of adjusting to life without my dad, we had absolute faith that my grandfather would ensure our future financial security. We knew he cared very much for us and for our well-being. As executor of our estate, we trusted my grandfather’s capable hands and his conscientious nature.
We waited for a year believing that my grandfather was working in our best interest to resolve the estate and to maintain its assets. Over time, communication between us lessened and we became increasingly concerned. Because my grandfather had failed to provide us with any substantive information about our estate despite repeated requests, we employed a local estate lawyer in March of 2015 to find out if he could provide us with information on how long it took to resolve estates and to tell us about the status of our estate. Much to our chagrin, not only did he inform us that my grandfather did not have an estate attorney, but also that he hadn’t paid the estate taxes, which at that point were long overdue.
The lawyer reviewed the will and confirmed that our simple estate should have been resolved within twelve months. Sixteen months had passed since my dad’s death. We later learned that during the two years of my grandfather's executorship, over $165,000 of my father’s estate had been spent on misguided expenses unnecessary for the settlement. We were confused and shocked. Despite repeated requests from my mother, my grandfather gave no sufficient explanations. He provided us with vague and evasive reassurances that ‘things were progressing.’ Dissatisfied with the state of things, we appealed to the courts. Forced, my grandfather produced an incomplete accounting with insufficient supporting documentation. We would like to believe this state of affairs emerged as result of his negligence and not misappropriation of our funds. Regardless of intent, the effect has been devastating for family.
In August of 2016, my grandfather unexpectedly stated his intention to withdraw as executor. He agreed the role should go to my mother. Greatly relieved, we waited for him to move forward with the transfer. Months went by with no word from him. When my mother contacted him in mid-November, he refused to answer her numerous questions regarding the status of the estate. Despite my mother’s growing distress and her imploring him to take action, my grandfather ignored her pleas for help. His silence and indifference were devastating.
In January of 2017 we filed a petition to have him removed as executor. A close family friend, was appointed executor that March. We had hoped that there would be some progress, but nothing has changed. Like my grandfather, the second executor is evasive and has expressed no intention of resolving the estate. Fearing a repeat of my grandfather’s executorship, we filed a petition requesting his removal.
It seems clear that left up to the executor, our situation will go on indefinitely. Our only recourse is through the courts, which will be inevitably time consuming and expensive. With no immediate end in sight, our need to continue our fundraiser is critical.
This has been the state of affairs with our estate for the last 3 years. By providing you with this information, I hope you can now begin to understand more clearly our situation and the nature of our emergency.
Our goal is not to impugn the integrity of our executors or to speculate on the motives behind their mistakes. What we are suggesting, however, is that the evasiveness and negligence, whether intended or not, have left us in dire straits and we are suffering.
We are still on welfare, relying on food stamps for our sustenance and medicaid for healthcare. We are still being forced to sell our treasured belongings to take care of the rapidly mounting expenses.
Although we are still in the midst of a major financial crisis, we’re confident that with the generous contributions from friends and supporters, we will be able to get out of this nightmare in one piece. To date, we have raise nearly $20,000! We cannot thank you all enough for your support and generosity. The kind comments some of you have left us warm our hearts and has continued to be a great comfort to us.
Please consider donating to our fundraiser and sharing our story within your community and on social media. Thank you and Merry Christmas.
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