This Monday, I talked in person or by telephone with spouses, children, beneficiaries and/or successor trustees of fourteen of our deceased clients. That’s an unusually high number, but unusual things happen after a death.
Most of these clients had their affairs in order, and the successors are very pleased to know that they are taken care of. However, one conversation was especially poignant. A client of mine, named Roger (all names are changed), just lost his son David – a young man that I also knew and loved like a son. David’s widow has adopted some undesirable associations and habits, and Roger and his wife, Leah, are very concerned about what will happen, when they die, to David’s children. Roger and Leah have been panicking over the thought that all the funds formerly allocated to their son could now be wasted and not applied to education and other needs of their grandchildren. I was very happy to remind them that the son’s share will now go into a special trust for his children, to be controlled by their uncle, and cannot be wasted or misapplied, even when the children turn of age.
Another call was not so pleasant. Another client, without our knowledge or advice, changed ownership of assets and beneficiary designations on his retirement accounts just before he died. He did so at the urging of a financial planner who did not understand the process of the administration of the trust after death. The client’s widow and children will now have to pay extra income and capital gains taxes, and will no longer have the full protection against creditors, ex-spouses, and spend-down for long-term care that we had provided in his trust.
There are tremendous benefits of an estate plan, but it has to be created and maintained properly. As we help with the administration of the estates of most of our clients upon their deaths, we see what works and the tragedies of incomplete planning. That is why we stay in close touch with our clients and request that they always contact us for a free consultation before making changes to their documents or funding. Also, upon a death we are best able to assist when we are notified shortly thereafter and can then help the successors to understand what steps must now be taken to administer the estate.
We want to be able to give hope and comfort and a very positive response to all our clients and their successors, especially at such a critical time.
Estate planning is not just our practice – it is our privilege; it is our passion!
About Morris Hall
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, insuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
Contributed by MH Attorney and Partner, Theron M Hall, Jr.