The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances.
While Will contests and trust litigation do not happen often, it can happen. Having a well drawn Last Will and Testament or Trust can help. Everybody thinks it won’t happen to them. Or rather, everybody knows it’s going to happen to them eventually, but nobody thinks it’s going to happen tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. The “it” of which I speak is, of course, death. It is this perceived immortality that allows so many people to put off their estate planning until it is too late. However, the tragic loss of a young life this morning and the loss of a young couple in College Station last Sunday reminded me, only God knows when it will happen.
This week’s column is not a cautionary tale about a family who put off their planning and regretted it, this week’s column is about the peace and relief that forethought and planning brings not just to your family, but to you as the person making the plan.
In an article in Market Watch, Chuck Jaffe tells the moving story of his brother Rob, who insisted 2 years ago on creating an estate plan even though he and his wife were both healthy. As Jaffe puts it, “While not pleasant subject matter, it was not morbid… you’d rather be drinking lemonade on the veranda, but it wasn’t a sharp stick in the eye.” However, when Rob became unexpectedly ill in May of last year the estate plan turned out to be a comfort to Rob and his family—such a comfort, according to Jaffe, that Rob “made me [Chuck] promise that I would write about him… when his time was up, because his story would help others.”
“People need to understand… how big a blessing it is to know — when their time comes — that they have everything in order, that they don’t need to stress or worry about how things they worked their whole life for are going to turn out. I would not want to waste a minute of my life now having to do estate planning or worrying that I live long enough to get documents filed or whatever garbage comes with it. Focusing on death and dying while you are living, that’s easy; having to focus on death when you are dying, that would be unimaginable.”
In my business I frequently see how much easier it is for people to create a plan when they’re healthy, as opposed to the stress that comes with creating a plan when they are sick. Thank you Mr. Jaffe for sharing your brother’s moving story. I hope that your (and your brother’s) words will help motivate others to take comfort in planning ahead.
If your family has been putting off the necessary discussion of estate planning, I hope Mr. Jaffe’s story motivates you to work on it. When you’re ready, call our office. We can help your family with the practical details and legal aspect of creating your estate plan and you’ll have the comfort of knowing it is done correctly and will work when the time comes.
Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. www.moakandmoak.com