Last week I spoke to a friend whose father had suddenly and tragically died a few days earlier. It’s sad on so many levels but in this case he had a complete physical, with no indication his health was compromised, one week prior to having a massive heart attack and dying within minutes. After a tearful conversation it really struck me that with No Will there is No Way the healing process for her and her family will begin and end quickly. His passing is almost a guideline as to what should not happen if you leave loved ones behind.
1) His last will was prepared while he was still married, 20 years ago. The divorce was finalized 12 years ago but as it stands his ex-wife will receive the house and is also the beneficiary to his company life insurance plan. It appears the lawyer that handled the divorce did not suggest that a new will be prepared or guide him on other areas to consider after a major life change. Based on other family members and friends that have used the same lawyer this is not something she has suggested to them in the past either.
2) The concern for my friend and her siblings resides with the step-father and not their mother. It sounds like he is an overbearing and manipulative individual that can control the mother, and they’re not sure if she can stand up to him. She only wants what is best for her children but someone else’s greed may obstruct that.
3) Even though they were close to their father they don’t know where all his paperwork is, who are the beneficiaries of investments, or even who to contact. I understand the funeral home gave them contact information to various government agencies and checklists but they’re not sure if they should be contacting them. One reason is they question their own authority to speak on behalf of his Estate and secondly they’re not sure where to start and what to say.
4) They would like to keep the home in the family but he had a substantial line of credit that he used in place of a mortgage, with no life insurance coverage on it.
5) It’s not just the sons and the daughter of the deceased that are affected but also the grandchildren. They were his pride and joy.
There are certainly additional problems that have been created but are too specific to discuss in a public forum without jeopardizing confidentiality. So my closing comments focus on the need to Decide, Document and Discuss.
Decide on what you need to do to ensure that those you care about are not put in the same difficult position as my friend. In this case the “difficult” represents emotional, physical and financial repercussions that have already reared their ugly heads.
Document how you want everything handled, and who should receive what as soon as you have assets that need to be distributed on your demise. And let those you trust know where the information is.
Discuss openly with those you care about what your thoughts and plans are prior to a diagnosis of poor health or thinking you’ll get around to it, sometime in the future. My friend’s father was a loving, caring and compassionate person who probably thought he had all the time in the world and would get around to it, sometime…
How about you? Have you had these discussions with your loved ones? I’d love your feedback. And don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site.
Until next time,