Nancy’s financial advisor told her she needed our help. He insisted. Her husband, in his 40’s, had been scheduled for surgery but his prognosis was poor. She was hoping for the best, but she headed her financial advisor’s recommendation and call us. Given the short time frame, and Nancy’s emotional condition, her financial advisor filled in a lot of the gaps. He provided a family tree, names of children, dates of birth, assets, etc. Thus, when we met at the hospital with Nancy and her husband, we were ready. I came with a paralegal and we began to process the information, discuss the families options, and came up with a plan. At the office, the whole team went into action. We had our clerk in the basement of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds pulling old deeds on the real estate to ascertain chain of title. We had paralegals calling different financial institutions to get beneficiary and ownership information. I was drafting trust provisions that would protect the spouse and researching tax issues that were raised. We were able to put together a complete plan in a few days. The plan was signed. Nancy’s husband survived the surgery but died a few months later. It was a sad tale, but could have been worse. At least Nancy and her children were able to get the most out of the estate. She was extremely grateful and personally brought her siblings to get their estate plans in order.
Another family had their father in the hospital and he was given only a few months to live as well. However, this family did not have a financial planner they trusted pushing them to get their affairs organized. To make matters worse, the husband was on a second marriage. This family did not feel (or granted want to feel) the urgency in the matter. Despite me telling them about Nancy’s story, they were slow to respond. Unfortunately, the father died without any planning. He died in about four weeks from when the family first called me, and three weeks from when we met. This was more time than Nancy had given us. We could have put everything in order. Instead, the family is now attempting to sort through the pieces. They will be going to court. They may end up with a legal battle on their hands between the stepmother and the children. All because of a failure to allow us to act.
The difference between the two tales was the absence of a trusted advisor. In the first story, Nancy was working with someone she trusted. Thus, when he pushed and said it was urgent, she responded. In the second story, there was not one trusted advisor pushing the family. I told the second family that I it was urgent. I even told them stories of how clients have come to me too in the past but failed to act prior to their death. They simply did not hear me. I understand, these are difficult times. That is why it is so important to create the right relationships in advance. Your advisor should have either gone through these real life situations or work closely with someone who has. That way, when you are inevitably faced with life’s challenges, you have a team of trusted advisors in your corner making sure things are taken care of.an ahead.