Tuesday February 21, 2017
A stitch in time saves nine
posted by Oliver H. Barber, Jr.
Tags: In the news
There are many old sayings, or aphorisms, that are applicable as we go through life. One of them is the English saying cited at the top, a “stitch in time saves nine.” It needs no explanation.
Another is, “never put off until tomorrow that which you can do today.” Once again, common sense, it leaves no doubt what it means.
These thoughts and aphorisms also apply to legal situations.
For example, some years ago, a wonderful couple contacted me from Northern Kentucky. They had two children and were seeking a specialized Will Trust and Estate instrument that I had drafted many years before and was using in order to assist families that have developmentally disabled children.
This instrument sets up a fact situation where they execute a Will and a trust to go into effect at the time of their death. The body of the trust includes a language that sets up an advisory committee to tell the trustee how to spend the money on behalf of the developmentally disabled child. For example, if you have a child who is autistic, then there are people on that committee, three or five people, who know and understand the intricacies of the autism spectrum. The couple came down to Louisville, we drafted their Will after a couple of hours of conversation and they went on back to Northern Kentucky. Per arrangement, we sent them a draft of the Will, they made some corrections. In this procedure, generally, the corrections deal with making sure that the names are spelled accurately of the individuals who are listed in the body of the Will and Trust. Thereafter, my office and I put the Will in final and we sent it to the clients.
I gave them an option of signing the documents in front of a notary public in a bank or a like place in Northern Kentucky, or traveling back down here and signing it in the office where I would provide three witnesses and a notary.
Under Kentucky law, that makes it easy to probate the Will because it means that the witnesses will not have to show up in Court and verify the signatures.
I did not hear from these fine people for two months, and so I wanted to make sure that they had finished the project and I sent them a communication asking whether or not they had executed the documents. I was told that they had not, but they would get right on it. I waited another two months and contacted them again. I was not able to reach them at that time and so I waited about a week and then I called back up to Northern Kentucky and used the same phone number I had been given by the family.
I reached the sister of the husband, who informed me, sadly, that the couple had been killed in an automobile accident, run over by a tractor trailer. They had not executed the Trust documents and the Wills.
Therefore, the state of Kentucky was going to dispense with assets of their estate. This would put the money that should be the children’s in jeopardy because it could very well be spent down in order to qualify the children for entitlement programs under Medicaid in the future.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Another example of that bit of wisdom is the following story that involves a Prenuptial Agreement.
A client of mine came to me and said that he wanted a Prenuptial Agreement. At my request, he brought into the office his intended bride and we sat down and went over all of the assets of both estates and determine what would be in the Prenup.
I asked for a listing of all of the assets of the bride and all of the assets of the groom. The conversation took place in October. The giddy couple was going to be married on December 31st at the end of the year.
They did not get back to me in October. I contacted them in November, the 1st of November. They still hadn’t completed their inventory. I contacted them on the 1st of December and explained to them that time was wasting.
They finally got back to me on the 23rd of December. With a great deal of “huffing and puffing”, I was able to get the document in final form, get them in my office and get it signed on the 30th of December, before they left for the marriage location out of the state of Kentucky.
So, they got married and were very happy about that. They came back to Kentucky. They were in Kentucky as a married couple for three days when he went into the hospital with a quadruple bypass.
Now, there are a couple of ways to read this. It is a good thing he went ahead and got it done and so, therefore, he didn’t fall afoul of my statements about getting the job done when you’re thinking about it or when you need to get it done. On the other hand, it is also true that he was very lucky that the need for the quadruple bypass was not discovered until after he got married, and the Prenup was formalized, and he was safe and so was she.
In conclusion, if you think about some legal matter that you have and you feel like you need to get it done. When, the little hairs on the back of your next start to stand up because you feel like you may need to get a legal matter resolved, then do it!