July 21, 2022

Planning on Dying? Nobody is.

Today’s article is more somber and cautionary than most, but it’s easy for us to forget that the “worst case scenario” is always just around the corner.  

Thinking about your passing is hard, but leaving your family unprotected is even harder.

This story is about one of my clients – I’ve asked their family if it’s ok for me to tell the client’s story and they said they want everyone to know about the disaster they managed to avoid.  

I recently had a client who died unexpectedly of heatstroke.  They were in their 60’s and healthy.  

This summer, the client spent their morning working in their garden to add more summer-friendly plants.  The same day, the client played with their grandchildren at a park all afternoon.  When they got home, their spouse said the client was confused, couldn’t stop sweating, and spoke with slurred speech.  After taking a shower and laying down, the client slipped into a coma and never woke up.

I had created a living trust for this client several months before their passing.  They had a complex family history and had not been in contact with some of their close family members in years.  There were two children who had disowned the client and they did not want any of their estate to go to these children.

The client’s spouse called me a few days after the client’s passing in one of the saddest phone calls I’ve ever received.  

I was so relieved to tell the client’s spouse that the living trust we created just a few months ago would protect the client’s wishes and help the client’s spouse deal with their unthinkable loss.  We were able to access the client’s bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and other assets immediately without going through probate.  

The spouse had been dealing not only with unimaginable grief, but also the stress of financial strain and the possibility that relief was several months and thousands of dollars away.  However, with their new trust, the spouse didn’t have to get a court’s permission to honor their spouse’s wishes.

That phone call wasn’t the time or place to tell the client’s spouse that the client’s disinherited children would have received a large portion of the client’s estate if we hadn’t created the trust when we did.  

When I met with the client, they had no idea that their life would end in the next couple of months.  Unfortunately, this is a solemn reminder that nobody knows when they will pass.  But the purpose of this article isn’t to remind you of your mortality – the purpose is to show that your estate MUST be planned before it’s too late.  

My client narrowly avoided financial disaster for his family and his wishes were almost ignored by the unbending Texas law of succession.  The reality is that nobody knows when they’re going to pass – it could be from heatstroke, a drunk driver, brain aneurysm, natural causes, or any number of reasons.

Don’t wait to plan for your passing before it’s too late.  Let Hunter Sargent, PLLC guide you through the complex estate planning process by laying out all your options and letting you decide which one is right for you. Call us today at (940) 594-7754 or contact us to start planning your estate today.

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