Sister's untimely death proves importance of preparing a will

Posted: August 07, 2012

DEAR HARRY: Our sister was extremely ill for the last seven years. During that time we tried very hard to have her make a will, but she would respond, "Are you trying to put me in my grave?" She did absolutely nothing. She would not even tell us where things were or whom she dealt with at her bank. Well, she died a few weeks ago, and we're going crazy looking for things. We just discovered that she took out a $50,000 loan four years ago. We have zero idea of where that money went or if some of it is still invested or available. It was even a nuisance to get our older sister appointed as administrator. All of us are now trying very hard to get things in order and get wills prepared. This was a rude wake-up call. Incidentally, she would not even pay attention to your advice on this.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: The pity of it all is that none of you took my advice on wills. Don't delay. And while you are getting your wills prepared, start writing a letter of instructions to your survivors telling them whom to contact and where things are. You've had your eyes opened; now do it promptly and completely to make it as easy as possible for your heirs. Too many people do not realize that the state has a will for those who do not prepare their own, and that its will may not do what they intend. In no event should any of you offer to pay any of her debts!

Email Harry Gross at harrygross@phillynews.com or write to him at Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, Box 8263 Philadelphia, PA 19101. Harry urges all his readers to give blood — contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.

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