I was blessed with wonderful parents who were married for 63 years. Years ago, they wrote a standard will. After my Mom passed away in 2011, my Dad, an active, independent 80-year-old in relatively good physical and mental health, decided he wanted to revisit his own documents. He knew that with a standard will, all of his assets could go into probate in the courts. It was important to him to keep our family’s asset distribution private and fair for all remaining family members if something should happen to him.
Dad’s financial planner recommended Kelly Shovelin and Matthew Schrum of Four Pillars Law Firm. Working with both my father and me, they offered solutions like an irrevocable trust to help protect Dad’s assets if he ever needs a nursing home and ensure our family avoids probate court during the eventual execution of his will. Like many modern families, ours is a bit complicated due to divorces and other issues. The trust dictates the exact terms of asset distribution and precisely for whom said assets are intended.
As the adult child residing nearest my father and the person named as his executor, this lifts a tremendous burden from me. The documents that are now in place clearly state my father’s wishes and exactly how his estate should be distributed, meaning no bias on behalf of the executor and leaving less room for debate. Everything is clear, transparent and final. In other words, by planning in advance, Dad isn’t just protecting “the money,” he’s also protecting the relationships between his children. We will be able to avoid the hurt feelings and family bickering I’ve seen all too often when loved ones pass away.
Did it cost a little bit more for Dad to revisit all of this paperwork and make changes? Yes, but now he feels more settled and he can sleep at night. I’m also relieved knowing all bases are covered, and if something does go wrong, I know exactly what to do. I won’t have the headaches and the heartbreak of having to sort out such important matters during times of stress or grief.
As someone who has spent 32 years working in the medical field, I’ve seen time and again how life can change in an instant and how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I am grateful to my father for his foresight, and grateful to Four Pillars Law Firm for creating a thoughtful, solid plan that will protect him and all of us for years to come.