We have all lost a loved one… or will eventually lose a loved one. Losing a loved one is hard there is no question. It is a sad reality of life though. I lost my dad when I was 14. I remember it well of course. My mom was a regular on the grief group circuit around west Los Angeles. We talked about the good times we had had with my dad and we moved on. We never forgot him, of course, but life does go on. As an estate planning attorney, since 1994, I have talked to countless families about losing their loved ones. In fact, sometimes it’s the loved one talking to me before they die but they know their day is coming very soon due to illness.
My world was rocked on March 11, 2016 when I received a call that my mom and step-father were dead. Sadly it was a murder-suicide. My step-father, was a great man, who had seemingly benign paranoia issues. Obviously it was much worse than we realized. Ask questions! Do not ignore! Does the picture below look like someone who is unhappy?
Perhaps my message is more of a public service announcement… DO NOT IGNORE MENTAL HEALTH red flags with your loved ones. Even very small red flags could be something worse. Encourage your family and friends to seek medical advice. Help them get to the doctor. I do not believe there was a single member of our families that was not shocked and surprised by the actions he took. Let’s avoid more surprises like this and deal with mental health head on!
Of course this is an estate planning and probate law blog so let’s talk about that. My mom’s estate plan was pretty well thought out and planned. However, even we didn’t have it 100% organized. There are still a few small assets not in her trust. Not a big deal but more paperwork for me to deal with. Get your trust set up, get ALL your assets correctly tied to your trust, eliminate the unnecessary assets, and simplify what you can! Your loved ones will be grateful to you!
Both my parents were attorneys. I know, I know, that’s really scary. Let me assure you that dinner time conversation, in our house, was horrible growing up. My mom actually went back to law school when I was about 7 or 8 so our dinner times, for 3 years, was dominated by law school talk. How funny that 15 years later I would go to law school! My mom even did estate planning, like me, so we would go to estate planning conferences together. What a great way to spend time with your mom!
There are several articles about my mom on the web but I thought this one, from the Logan Herald Journal, was the best so I share the link for you here. Please get your estate plan done as it can minimize the confusion and problems if a loved one dies suddenly.
RIP, Mary Flynn Palley, 1942-2016.