Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Princess Diana’s Estate Plan

Princess Diana“Family is the most important thing in the world.” Diana, Princess of Wales, was the most beloved soul that left the world too soon. When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, the whole world mourned because their queen was gone and her legacy of social work was cut way too short thanks to the paparazzi. Unfortunately, Lady Diana Spencer’s failure to have a proper estate plan came into play 17 years after her death.

Along with creating a will, Diana had created a Letter of Wishes. That letter contained the fact that ¾  of her jewelry and prize possessions were to be given to her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry and the ¼ would be given to her 17 godchildren. Unfortunately, this letter was not recognized and her godchildren only received one item of Diana’s estate. This letter went undisclosed for several years until it was revealed due to the outrage of the parents of the godchildren who were supposed to receive the ¼ of Diana’s estate.

According to the executors of her estate, they had filed a “variance” after her death which was supposed to distribute the money to her sons until they turned 30 which of course did not occur.

In Diana’s case, Personal Property that is valuable and important should be directly in a will or trust. Not a letter. If Diana had done this in her estate plan, there would be no questions about what the deceased individual wanted. Also, there would have been no variances. Even though Diana was the beloved princess of the world, by making the mistakes and causing much havoc in her family, her estate plan ended up in turmoil.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.



Ashes Stolen in Transit

Bigstock-Family-Portrait-At-Christmas-4881212[1]Postal worker leaves package on doorstep during Christmas season and the package is stolen.

A thief in Arizona stole a package that contained the cremated remains of an Arizona woman's father rather than a Christmas present, according to Fox News in "Ashes of woman's father stolen from front porch of Arizona home, reward offered." The package was left there by a postal worker, even though a signature was required.

The postal service is investigating the incident and has offered a $10,000 reward for information. The woman would just like the ashes back, so she can take them to her brother in California.

If this unusual story has any sort of lesson, it might be that it is not a good idea to ship a loved one's ashes during the holiday season.

Reference: Fox News (Dec. 18, 2017) "Ashes of woman's father stolen from front porch of Arizona home, reward offered."


Burial for the Indigent

Old-graveyard-free-public-domainThe high costs of funeral services creates a problem, because many people pass away without having the means for their own burials. Their remains still have to go somewhere.

Every year, thousands of people with very little money pass away.  Sometimes, it is not even known who these deceased people were in life.

While this might seem like a minor issue and something that has always been the case, it creates an increasing burden on local governments.  They must determine what to do with the bodies of deceased people, who either cannot be identified or whose families do not have the money to afford burial or cremation.

It is not a minor expense,  since the costs of disposing of a deceased body continue to rise.

One county in Florida had such a significant problem that they purchased a cemetery, as the Tallahassee Democrat reports in "A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County's 'pauper's cemetery'."

The cemetery previously belonged to a hospital, but the county purchased it to dispose of the remains of the indigent as cheaply as possible. Graves are marked with the most basic of markers and no actual funeral services are allowed at the cemetery.

The deceased are buried as quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

This is an issue that could get worse before it gets better.

Elderly people are living longer and in greater numbers. That makes it likely that many more elderly will pass away in the future, after they have run out of their own money.

The burden to bury them will be on the government. Elder law advocates may need to address this problem in the near future.

Reference: Tallahassee Democrat (June 24, 2017) "A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County's 'pauper's cemetery'."