As an estate planning attorney, it is my job to talk about death and taxes in a very matter of fact manner. When I sit down with my clients to design their documents, I try to take emotions out of the conference room as we go through what should happens at first death or second death. When we come to the final part of the Will design, I ask – “In the unlikely event that all of you (you, your spouse, your kids, your grandkids) are not around to take their share, who would you want your assets to go to?” – and I get this uncomfortable laugh and oftentimes responses like “Wow, I did not think about that!” or “Whoa, that is crazy – who thinks that far?” or at times “C’mon, that is never going to happen so do you really need me to answer that?”…but I still go through the motions until they come up with an answer and once the documents are signed, this is likely to go into distant memory hoping that it will never be addressed…ever!
So when I heard about the Indian family of 4 (Thottapilly family ages 41, 38, 12 & 9)¹ who went missing on April 5, 2018 in Northern California while on a road trip and their bodies were later found submerged in the river into which their SUV crashed, all I could think of is that this remote provision was not that remote after all!
It could have been any family, this could have been any happy vacation – all it takes is a set of unfortunate conditions -Mother Nature at her worst or a terrorist act or human error. Whatever the case may be, it goes back to the sad truth that nothing is certain except for death and taxes…and its not “if” but “when.” Perhaps at this point we may not really care what happens to our assets if those closest and precious to us are gone but, by putting in place a contingency plan for both predictable and unpredictable events, you at the very least ensuring that your assets don’t pass to those you who dont want them going to and this may very likely happen if you leave behind no Will and your assets pass through the laws of intestacy.
Consult with an estate planning attorney today and make sure that your overall objectives for your assets, whether remote or not so remote, are fulfilled!