The nephews of María Kodama, who died at the end of March, have presented themselves as the heirs of the one who was the partner of the writer Jorge Luis Borges
María Kodama, widow and main disseminator of the work of Jorge Luis Borges, died without having made a will, or at least this is what is known for now. In these circumstances, it is up to the courts to determine who inherits his possessions, among which are the copyrights of the Argentine writer’s literary work, and the medals, decorations, and distinctions he received. Also original manuscripts, drawings, and the personal library of the author of “The Aleph”, among other assets of high value as well as other movable and immovable assets.
Kodama died last March 26, aged 86, and was the universal heir of her late husband, whom she married shortly before his death in 1986.
Now, Kodama’s nephews have appeared before the court as heirs, in the framework of the succession file opened by the lawyers of the Argentine writer, a gesture that has been applauded by the legal representatives. ” I am very happy and relieved that María Kodama’s nephews have presented themselves as heirs. A new stage is opening in the protection of Borges’ work,” said Fernando Soto, a lawyer for the author and translator.
The lawyer thinks Kodama waited too long
Last Monday, Soto began processing Kodama’s ” succession by vacant inheritance “, with the aim of declaring himself a conservator and administrator of his legacy.
The woman’s trusted secretary explained to Soto that she was not aware that she had made a will.
The lawyer, member of the management of the Borges Foundation and legal representative of Kodama since 2001, explained to the EFE agency that she verbally expressed her intention to do so:
“He waited until the last moment to do it and, when he was ready to do it, the people he was with didn’t give him the means to make the act of last will.”
When these people reacted, he added, “It was too late” because Kodama “wasn’t in a position” to make a will.
Soto believes that there is “nothing hidden” and “no intention” in this fact, but that she waited too long. “When he expressed the idea and gave some guidelines for doing it, in that same event, that same day, it should have been done,” he concludes.
It is not enough to have expressed the will to witnesses, but it must be in writing and clearly.
It was speculated that he would leave the legacy in the hands of two foreign universities. The literati had told a media outlet at the time that she had “everything fixed”, but, as far as is known so far, that does not seem to be the case.
Shortly after the vacant inheritance process was requested, Kodama’s relatives appeared.
The lawyer does not believe that there will be more heirs than these nephews, five people, according to the Clarín newspaper. The lawyer commented that Kodama once mentioned a brother, Jorge, with whom he had no relationship. Legal representatives did a search and located two people with the name, deceased, who may have children or grandchildren. And these would be the ones who would have appeared in court to claim their share.
The legal mess promises to be long, and the situation could take a turn if a document appears in one of the properties he had, or if it is established the possibility that he had made a donation during his lifetime.
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What if no one claims ownership
According to Clarín, if the heirs renounced the inheritance, the heritage would remain in the hands of the City of Buenos Aires.
If Borges’ legacy passed into the hands of the Argentine state and no one claimed it for 10 years, the government would have the power to auction it off.
Borges’ literary work is registered in the National Register of Intellectual Property of the National Directorate of Copyright under the ownership of Kodama.
The writer met Borges in Buenos Aires in 1937, when she was 16 and he was 54. They met in the street, at the exit of a bookstore. She told him she wanted to study Literature and he invited her to study Old English together. Since then they were not separated. First, she was his student, then his secretary, and, already in his old age, his wife.
Although, in 1967, Borges married Elsa Astete, Kodama continued to see him. The first marriage of this key figure in Spanish literature and eternal Nobel candidate lasted only three years. They married Kodama in 1986 and by proxy, two months before the poet, essayist, and translator died of liver cancer and pulmonary emphysema.