I was out of the office at a Board Meeting, when I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. After the meeting adjourned, I called my voice mail. My son Steve left a message to call him — it was important. I could tell by the tone in his voice (most parents have this built in radar) that something terrible had happened.
I called Steve and he said “Dad, I’ve got bad news, Uncle Gary died earlier this morning.” Gary was my former brother-in-law and I’ve known him since he was 13 years old. No one expected him to pass away at age 56. While he had some medical problems over the past 10 years he continued to live a fairly normal life. Gary leaves behind two sons, my twin nephews Ron and Mike, both 28 years old.
Where’s the Will?
Ron and Mike told me that their Dad told them, that he had prepared a new will last year, because he had been recently divorced. Ron, Mike and other family members went through his home in search of that will. They did not find any will. They called lawyers, which they thought Gary may have dealt with in the past, and came up empty handed.
Preparation, Communication and Retrieval
As financial advisers we spend most of our time encouraging people to get their wills prepared. I know that Gary had wills prepared in the past and I have no reason to doubt that he revised his will last year, as he told my nephews he did. So the lesson here is that preparing the will is not enough. You need to tell your executor where the will is located and who prepared the will and how to contact that person.
The original will should be kept with your estate planning attorney, not in a safe-deposit box. You should also have a copy of the will filed with your important papers too and make sure you tell your executor where the will is and how to get it.
Helpful Estate Planning Tool
We have a tool that can help you avoid costly estate planning issues. It’s called the Financial and Estate Planning Organizer. It allows you to list, in one place, all of your important documents, account numbers and people to contact, so that your family won’t have to worry about what you had and who to contact, especially during a stressful period that is bound to follow the passing of loved one.
You can get a free copy of the Financial and Estate Planning Organizer by logging on to our web-site www.rwroge.com, click on the tab that says “Planning Tools” then open “The Financial and Estate Planning Organizer” and print a copy for yourself.
If you don’t have a will and need the name of a qualified estate planning attorney that we have experience working with, please call our office. We will be happy to help.