“If you don’t have any legal documents in place, or if you know that your documents need to be changed and updated to reflect your current wishes, get it done now before it’s too late.”


By James Ward

James Ward

I consider myself lucky. I’ve had both COVID-19 shots, and I also had a mild case of COVID several months before the vaccines were available, so I likely developed some antibody protection from that as well.

For the most part, my clients are concerned, they’ve been vaccinated, they’re being cautious, and they’re doing well. I’m lucky and they’re lucky.

But I had a call from a client’s daughter recently, and she told me that her 85-year-old mother wanted to make some changes in her trust. She said it was urgent. I was told that one daughter had just died, and the mother now wanted changes to make sure that the estate was divided just to the other children.

I explained that I’d have to speak with the mother, as she was my client. I told her that her mother’s prior wishes were that if any of the children died before the mother, the deceased child’s share would pass to the children of that deceased child. The daughter said that her mother understood that, and had agreed to that before, but she no longer wanted it that way.

Really? Why? It seemed like this daughter was just trying to cut out the children of her deceased sister and grab a larger share for herself. This is something we see frequently, and we need to watch out for it to see if the elder is being unduly influenced.

No. Not in this case, the daughter explained. There was reasoning behind the mother’s decision.

Really? What? What was it that changed the mother’s feelings on this?

The daughter who died had just died two days earlier, and she died of COVID. Wow.

I asked whether the deceased daughter had been vaccinated, and there lay the problem.

The deceased daughter’s own children, now adults in their late 30s, had convinced their mother that COVID was just a hoax, and that she shouldn’t get vaccinated.

Now, my 85-year-old client was suffering from the loss of her daughter, and furious that that daughter’s own adult children had convinced their own mother that COVID was just a hoax.

Under no circumstances did my client want any part of her estate to ever go to the grandchildren who had convinced their mother that COVID was just a hoax, and that their mother should never get vaccinated. My client wasn’t about to allow that.

Wow. Tough case. Nobody wins here. It’s a tragic loss for everyone.

Unfortunately, history tells us that we all die at some point. There appears to be no way to escape that fact, and that shouldn’t be surprising news for you.

If you have assets, and you have heirs or friends or charities who you want to benefit from your assets after you pass on, make sure that you have the right documents in place so that people can follow your wishes.

If you don’t have any legal documents in place, or if you know that your documents need to be changed and updated to reflect your current wishes, get it done now before it’s too late.

While the case I described above was tragic, the mother adjusted quickly to make sure that her documents reflected her wishes following the death of her dear daughter. And that change provided a great deal of inner peace for the mother.

James Ward
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