AABP Award 728x90

Getting Father’s money in 7 simple steps


Dear Mr. Berko:

Whatever caused the recent earthquake in Richmond, Va., also caused our wealthy, 77-year-old father to update his will. Father now seems to have a death premonition (the quake shook but did not damage his property) and has appointed my two sisters and me as trustees. We live in different states far from Father and never took an interest in his businesses or holdings.

I know your daughter is a lawyer. Could you ask her what papers or documents we should have if Father takes ill or passes? His lawyer is a pompous jerk, and we want to limit our contact with him when the time comes. Thank you in advance.

N.T., Vancouver, Wash.

Dear N.T.:

Well, I’m glad that quake encouraged your letter, and I’m glad that it didn’t do damage to “Father’s” property. The quake could have been caused by a shift in the tectonic plates, but my daughter told me she thinks that the disturbance was a result of our Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.

Anyhow, my daughter emailed me the following suggestions that should make everything crystal-clear for your beneficiaries, heirs, accountants, trustees, family members and sundry other folks who will be disappointed because they will not share in Father’s largess. However, you or one of your sisters needs to spend a week with Father in Richmond to put this list together. Get yourself a folio, gather everything detailed below, label each category as suggested and place it in a prominent place where it can be easily found by those he chooses to involve.

THE WILL: You’ll need a copy of the will, the name of Father’s attorney, Father’s letter of instruction and copies of all trust documents.

BANK ACCOUNTS: Get a list of all of Father’s checking and savings accounts; a list of all CDs; and a list of each safe-deposit box, plus a duplicate key and names of others who also have access to the box. If he banks online or by mail, get a list of all user names and passwords.

PROOF OF OWNERSHIP: Secure copies of Father’s car, plane, boat and other vehicle titles. Get copies of deeds to his homes, business properties, cemetery lots and acreage. Get copies of his tax returns going back three years. Additionally, you’ll need to drum up proof of loans owed to him and debts owed by him; copies of partnership and business agreements; annual statements for stock brokerage accounts going back, again, three years; and a copy of his Social Security card.

HEALTH CARE: Procure records of Father’s disability policies, long-term care policies, durable health-care power of attorney and living will. Find out the names of Father’s family physician and specialists, and secure authorization to release Father’s personal health-care data.

LIFE INSURANCE/RETIREMENT: Make a list of Father’s life insurance policies by name and policy number. Gather documentation on his IRAs, pensions, 401(k) accounts and annuity contracts.

PERSONAL ITEMS: List any of Father’s coin collections, stamp collections, book collections, gun collections, jewelry, art, heirlooms or antiques and note approximate values.

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE: Get a copy of Father’s marriage license and any divorce agreements.

This should suffice. And if Father planned his investments and estate properly, he should be able to live abundantly, build capital and continue to surpass his peers and disappoint his heirs.

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, Fla. 33775, or email him at mjberko@yahoo.com. © 2011 Creators.com

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