One of my favorite things about private practice is that I get to meet and interact with so many interesting people in different stages of their lives. My estate planning clients are usually a little older, wiser and in the process of coming to terms with the past and their own mortality. Many who come to see me are motivated by a recent life-changing event, such as the birth of a new baby, a change in marital status or the passing of a loved one.
Recently, I met Ray (not his real name), a 70ish gentleman who related a wonderful love story about marrying his high-school sweetheart. The marriage, unfortunately, was short-lived and ended in divorce. He admitted his decision to divorce was the biggest regret of his life, along with never having children.
Years passed. Ray loved the ocean and eventually became a professional surfer, but never remarried. Remarkably, nearly 40 years later, he received an email from his former wife. The two lovebirds soon remarried and spent thirteen glorious years together. Recently, Ray’s wife passed away, leaving him as a beneficiary of her substantial estate, and in charge of carrying out her wishes carefully detailed in her will and trust she wrote herself. Ray was lost and overwhelmed. Could I help?
Losing a spouse is not easy and the grieving process is long and unpredictable. A kind word, a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on is sometimes all that is needed. But the surviving spouse left in charge of carrying out the terms of their loved one’s plan has many decisions to make, such as whether a probate is necessary, how and when to make distributions of property to other beneficiaries, and how to deal with tax issues, known and unknown.
Life is challenging and full of joyful surprises; discovering that special place in nature, finding new friends, renewing past relationships, and welcoming a child, once estranged, back home. Timing of these events is left to the universe. For married folks though, the time will come when your partner dies. The one left behind will need professional advice about what comes next. Each case is slightly different and must be evaluated based on your partner’s stated wishes, current law and the specific facts and circumstances. In most cases, the laws of the state where your partner passed away will govern.
My friend agreed to share his story on this blog.
Interested in learning more? Give me a call at 775-392-4223 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.