Sunday, March 20, 2011

A friends kids miss out if she can't find grandpa's will

This weekend I've spent all my time with a  friend whos' grandfather just passed away.  She tried hard to quickly travel across the country to be with him in my town before he passed away.  Unfortunately, she was 3 hours too late.  She's never dealt with the business side of a death.  There are all sorts of things one must do - find wills, life insurance policies, savings or checking accounts, conduce probate, bills and funeral expenses.   It's detailed and things must be done legally..

My friend, we'll call her  "G",  was close to her grandfather and held his Power of Attorney for medical care.  For years he told her that he wanted her to have all of his savings and that it should be used to put her two youngest kids through college.   G never asked about wills, or amounts, or locations because she didn't want to be rude. She respected and loved Grandpa and didn't keep in touch with him because of this potential inheritance.   Her grandfather was really sharp until the end and had a good head for business; she assumed he'd taken care of it all.... 

So today, only 8 hours after Grandpa passed,  I helped her search his home for important papers and we found one document - a bank statement from January 2011.   Her son searched his computer for anything that might give a clue to his income and debts -  life insurance, check register, bills, car titles, deeds,   - anything that might help her understand Grandpa's financial status.   Nothing.  Just one bank statement with checking and savings and a small charge card balance.   Damn.......I thought about all the legalities necessary..... "Double Damn."  Then  an "oh shit!!" moment......

We sat down for a break and it dawned on me - if Grandpa did nothing, even though he told G what he wanted to happen,......  if Grandpa put nothing in writing.  If Grandpa didn't NOTARIZE anything, then, ...  "oh shit!!" ... everything would go to his son.  EVERYTHING.  Everything would go to a drug addicted, low-life that had not seen his father for more than 20 years.   Everything would go to a guy who did nothing but cause his parents deep hurt and take advantage of them.   I didn't want to say it out loud but I could not let G begin to conduct this business without that knowledge.  

I called some friends and got a reference for an attorney.  She called the bank to understand what they needed to set up an checking account for Grandpa's estate.  She can't do anything with out two things:  1. Death Certificates and 2. being named by the county as the Personal Representative for his estate.    Damn... 

The bottom line is that Grandpa died without a will and this WILL cause a huge mess. .  Unless he was astute enough to name her as beneficiary on his accounts and his life insurance then the law of the state prevails.     So now, she'll become his "personal representative" and start the probate process.   

The lesson for anyone else is clear:  write shit down!!!  Notarize it!  Have it recorded at the county clerk/assessor!!!  Make a will!  Fill out the beneficiary forms for life insurance, savings, checking, retirement accounts.  Don't wait, it could cost your loved ones and your wishes might not be honored.
Does grand pa grandma need a will?  Grandpa died without a will.  Why should i do a will.