Wills – are they really necessary?  


Wills – are they really necessary?

Sometimes your own life is the greatest teacher! This is what happened in mine, that I have to share with you.

As you can imagine, all my friends know very well that I am a Financial Planner, that I work with clients who prepare for retirement and those who have already retired, and more or less, they know what my work involves.

My wrong assumption was that after many discussions, debates, explanations, heart to heart talks between us, I honestly thought that all my friends would be well prepared for certain obstacles and unexpected events, especially those impacting the financial side of life.

Couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from a dear friend of mine, crying over the phone and begging me for help.

Her partner of many years, who has been suffering from cancer for the last 2 years, was in a very bad place, he had been hospitalised many times before, but last time we met, only about 6 months ago, he appeared to be OK. We had lunch together, laughed together, we really had a great night out. 

And now suddenly my friend is calling me saying that her partner was taken to a palliative care and he is not well at all.

But this was not the reason for her call. Only at this very final stage of his life, she realised that her partner has never made a Will. If he dies now, she could be in a real trouble, considering complexity of their lives prior to them being together. 

I was shocked, how is that possible that a person that close to me, that I spoke with so many times about importance of legal documents, still hasn’t done anything about that? What can I do now? Isn’t that too late?

The important fact of that story is that the day she called was late Friday.

Friday, so we have a weekend coming up, people do not work over the weekend. Who am I supposed to call right now?

Luckily, after working in my profession for that many years, I’ve created close relationships with other professionals and a good lawyer can be your best friend when you need this kind of help.

So again, I remind you, it was late Friday afternoon, I jumped on the phone to call my colleague lawyer. Her name is Hazel Todd from Hazel Legal. I explained the situation and virtually begged her if it was at all possible to visit our sick friend on Saturday – the following day. 

Remember, lawyers don’t work Saturday, lawyers work by appointments, you wait your turn when they are available. To my surprise and happiness, for lack of a better work, Hazel agreed to come with me to see our friend the next day, Saturday afternoon. 

The next day was the very first time I saw our sick, dying friend for the first time since our last lunch together. I couldn’t recognised him, thin like a skeleton, white hair, about 20 years older looking that 6 months prior. Cancer is horrible. 

But to our surprise, he was very alert, his mind was sharp, he was talking with us and a lawyer, answering all questions with full mental capacity.

Hazel was amazing. She prepared all legal documents right there, on the spot, brought with her the mobile version of her office, she even had a little printer. So she prepared the Will, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Medical Powers of Attorney and our sick friend signed all documents, that were immediately witnessed as legally required.  

You should see the look on his face: happy, with peace of mind, feeling content and with no further worry. 

I looked at my friend’s face – I saw the feeling of relief, security and gratitude.

I personally, I was also relieved, as I know exactly what families go through if a close one dies intestate – meaning with no will.

The following day, I received a phone call from the hospital to advice that Andrew passed away late Sunday afternoon, while peacefully asleep. 

This is a sad story, but this is life and the reason to tell you this story is hopefully to make you aware of importance of those legal documents. And most certainly they are not age related. It does not mean that only people who pass a certain age should have Wills in place. It applies to every single person that has some type of assets and cares about their family, not to put the through hell of legal drama. 

Talk next time. 

To your financial health, peace of mind and that perfect retirement.

By: Katherine Isbrandt CFP®
Money Strategist & Retirement Planner
Principal of About Retirement

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