It’s been several months since I’ve posted a blog. However, this weekend I read an article in the New York Times entitled, “A Shocking Death, a Financial Lesson and Help for Others” that resonated with me. Recently, my office has seen a number of clients faced with the loss of their spouse. Many of these clients have been younger, so the loss was obviously unexpected. This is a tragic occurrence which is only exacerbated by a lack of planning. Grief stricken by the loss of their spouse and overwhelmed by the daunting task of searching for asset information, computer passwords and other information that was never addressed while their spouse was alive, these clients come into my office with more questions than answers. How will they pay the bills? Will they have access to the individual accounts? Did their spouse have adequate life insurance? What are their spouse’s computer passwords for his various accounts?
In the NYT article, the subject, Chanel Reynold’s lost her husband after he was hit while riding his bicycle. Chanel and her husband were ill prepared to handle this horrific tragedy. They had inadequate life insurance to replace his six figure income, an unsigned will, a blended family and a huge mess. Chanel however, took her tragedy and turned it into a life lesson for others. She launched a website entitled “getyours***ttogether.org.” I’ve bleeped out the actual website name due to its crudeness, however, the lessons imparted are valuable and worth checking out. While I do not agree with all of the recommendations made by Ms. Reynolds, I am a proponent of learning from other people’s mistakes, as this can save you from making your own. At the Law Offices of Kristen R. Gross, P.C., we assist clients by preparing easy to understand documents that address both incapacity and death. We provide checklists that allow clients to get organized. I encourage clients to share their goals and information with the people whom they’ve appointed in their documents and will conduct a meeting with trustees, guardians and other agents to explain their role in my client’s estate plan. It’s a new year, start 2013 off right and get your “act” together by doing your estate plan.