Welcome back my bloggers to part two of “Four Funerals and a Wedding.” As you recall, in the last blog in part one, we were talking about our four friends, Anna, Beatrice, Carla and Dee Dee. Anna and Beatrice were our first two funerals, and today, we’re going to talk about our next two funerals and our wedding. The third funeral was their friend, Carla. Carla did get the lesson from Anna and Beatrice and she put her estate together with a trust, kept it updated which Beatrice didn’t do, so she was avoiding probate and she was keeping on top of who her beneficiaries were in her trust. And she had worked for a company here in California called Autodesk since she had graduated from college, and she had built up a large 401K plan while she was working for them.

At that time, when she filled out her beneficiary designation, she had no children, she was unmarried and it was going to her mother. Fast forward, all this time she’s been updating her trust but not her beneficiary designations on her retirement assets. She dies and her mother is in a nursing home with dementia. She is the only beneficiary on her 401K. Her designation deprived her husband, now husband and children of all the assets in the 401K she had and on top of that, it did go to her mother but Medi-Cal took most of it when her mother died because they had paid out for her care and when they pay out for someone’s care and that person dies they can recover from that person’s estate monies that were paid out on her behalf. All of the 401K practically was lost in the recovery process.

Funeral number four, Dee Dee, the last friend who was basically the piggy who built the brick house and laid the cauldron out for the wolf. She had seen her friends’ demise. She had witnessed the nightmares that their family had gone through in the various situations in dealing with their estates and she went to a qualified estate planning attorney who put her trust in place, made sure her beneficiary designations were proper and had her in to review regularly her estate plan. Her death, tragic as it was, allowed her family to grieve and be left financially confident. They weren’t worried about where the 401K was going or who was inheriting the house. Her husband was able to finance the wedding of their youngest daughter who was able to have a wedding with her mom there in spirit because nobody else was worried about the chaos that her three friends had left behind by not looking at everything globally. All of these friends had the best intentions for their family but only Dee Dee had a well co-ordinated and updated estate that achieved her goals.

Bridget Mackay works with clients in Santa Rosa, CA and throughout Sonoma County.

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