A Planning Success Story

When it comes to planning for financial purposes, most people know they need it, and yet still don’t take action to do it. A great example of this is with estate planning.

Nobody wants to think about dying, let alone prepare for it. Those who do prepare make things so much easier on the loved ones they leave behind. One such person was a good friend and client of mine.

George & Mary

George (not his real name) was a physician. He and his wife lived very happily for many, many years. George’s wife, Mary, was the nurse in his doctor’s office. George and Mary loved each other very much. They loved to work together, dine out together and travel together. They traveled all over the world.

They didn’t have any children together, so there was no great need to plan for their heirs. They had done a good job investing over the years, so there was going to be plenty for them to live on regardless of how long each of them lived.

This was a classic case where, if George had not done any planning at all for his death, Mary eventually would have been okay. George didn’t see it this way. He wanted everything to be in perfect order when he died so Mary didn’t have to worry about anything.

So George went about the last few years of his life making sure their wills were in order. He met with his attorney to make sure they had a family trust and that everything would work seamlessly for Mary once he was gone. He even had a trusted advisor arranged to handle his estate in case Mary didn’t want to handle the estate or the trust.

When George passed away last year, Mary was devastated. Her entire life revolved around George. She was in tears for weeks. And she was afraid. She didn’t understand finances and had no idea whether she would be okay.

Still, she knew their trusted advisor and called him. He was able to tell her that George had set everything up before he died and that she would be fine financially. There was, in fact, very little she needed to do. He had the beneficiary right on his IRA. He had his will in order. And he had a trusted advisor willing to serve as the trustee of their trusts if Mary didn’t want to do that.

Mary was in no condition or mood to handle the trust and the finances. It was all she could do to handle the funeral. So, she asked their advisor to handle the estate and the trust, which he was glad to do. She was able to concentrate on getting through the emotional side of losing her best friend and soul mate.

Mary is now doing great. She travels with her sister, who is also a widow. She is active and happy. The estate is all taken care of and the trust is handled. She meets with her advisor on a quarterly basis and he makes sure everything is fine financially for her.

This is a very nice story. One of the few I have ever seen with a happy ending. More often than not, the grieving widow is left with a mess. She ends up going through probate (not a pretty experience and very expensive) and she has to spend all of her energies trying to figure out what she has to do for the government and how to get access to her funds. Let me give you an example.

What Happens When There Isn’t Any Planning

A number of years ago, a woman contacted me to help her with her father’s estate. Her father had not kept good financial records, did not have a trust set up and his will was being contested by his heirs. We ended up going out to their house and going through hundreds of boxes to determine just what he owned. Nobody had a good list of his assets or how they were owned.

This dragged on for months and months. It ripped apart the family. They ended up in court over it for years and years. Much of this man’s assets were spent on lawyers and accountants just trying to straighten everything out. When everything was finally settled, nobody was happy. The family was in shambles. The children stopped talking to each other. It tore apart family and friends. To this day, the wounds have not healed.

Simple Planning Now

As Mary can tell you, this can all be avoided. A little simple planning and you can avoid hundreds of hours of misery for your loved ones left behind. You can keep everyone happy and clear on what you want to happen when you die. You can keep the courts, the accountants and the lawyers out of your business.

All it takes is some simple planning now.

Source by Tom Wheelwright

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