A how-to-guide on navigating the legal intricacies of dying.
With assistance from co-author Castleman (A Killing in Real Estate, 2010 etc.), Smith applies his expertise as an investment banker to the painful subject of death. He explains the unexpected pitfalls, including the legal requirement that heirs not only deal with funeral arrangements, but the disposition of bank accounts and other assets, payment of taxes, credit charges and mortgage debt, and the need to inform government authorities such as the IRS and Social Security Administration. While sending out obituaries and closing social media accounts and email, as well as notifying relatives and friends, are social rather than legal obligations, they are also expected. Smith also discusses such practicalities as having multiple copies of a death certificate on hand, and he recommends taking measures to protect property before it is finally disposed of and guard against allegations of fraud or abuse of trust by the executor. An appendix includes resources and a copy of model forms for documents such as power of attorney. The author shares his own painful experience when his elderly mother suffered brain damage after a fall that rendered her unconscious. Her end-of-life health directive included a do-not-resuscitate clause, and Smith decided against an operation to relieve pressure on the brain even though his mother briefly expressed the wish to have the operation. His justification was a grim prognosis for recovery. Smith retells this painful incident to emphasize the need to assign medical power of attorney along with making a living will.
A book of clear, practical advice.