What can the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds teach us?
A motto I truly believe in and have stressed to every client as we meet to create his or her estate plan is, Plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Did Carrie and Debbie plan for the worst and hope for the best? Can you imagine losing two generations so suddenly - within days, weeks or months of each other, with no estate plan for either?
I can tell you, it would not be a very smooth transition for those left behind. We never think the worst-case scenario will happen to us, but, trust me, I’ve seen it. It has been said a parent should never have to bury a child. I agree, of course, but unfortunately it does happen.
No one could have foreseen Carrie Fisher dying before her mom, Debbie Reynolds. Carrie was only 60 and Debbie, 84. Both had extensive careers in the entertainment industry and even had a documentary together coming out soon.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose the time or manner of our passing. In fact, I have a client who lost her child and grandchild within a month of each other, and she is in her 80s. No one would have ever thought that would happen, but it did.
Fortunately, she listened to my advice when we were planning for her estate, and we planned for the worst. We had her ducks in a row and at least from a financial standpoint, the order of her heirs’ deaths didn’t affect anything.
The same thing can be said in Carrie and Debbie’s case. It appears their plans were in order and their assets will pass equally to Debbie’s remaining child, her son, and to her only grandchild, Carrie’s daughter. Carrie’s assets will be distributed to her surviving daughter. Since Debbie’s son has no children, her assets will ultimately pass to Carrie’s daughter as well.
That’s the true value of a good plan - when life hands you the unexpected (and when does it not?), you can rest assured the plan is there to take care of what you didn’t account for and make sure your wishes are carried out as planned. We all have unexpected bumps in the road, be it a death, illness, expense, etc., but a good plan makes the difference between these difficulties being manageable and becoming catastrophic. We can’t plan for everything, but we can plan for enough that we make the best of a bad situation when one presents itself.
It is a good idea to have a respectable, knowledgeable partner that will help with these difficult arrangements. At Old North State Trust, we’re here to help you plan for those contingencies you may not have thought of or may not know how to plan for properly. We can help you plan - and implement that plan - to smooth out those bumps in life’s road when they come along. We’ll be here for you and your heirs from cradle to grave, and beyond.
Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends. The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances. The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely.
Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. Old North State Trust, a North Carolina chartered trust company, provides: asset management services; income, estate and trust tax consulting; retirement planning and administration; and trustee and estate services to both individuals and businesses. Old North State Trust professionals have many years of experience and for over a decade have assisted clients in identifying and reaching their financial goals. For more information, visit www.oldnorthstatetrust.com or call 910-399-5470.
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