By Timothy S. Barkley, Sr. December 2017.

“So first, I need to know a little about you. Married?”

“Yes.” The hirsute gentleman nodded his head.

“Will your spouse be joining us?”

“No,” he said, “this is something I need to get done real soon. I leave for a business trip in a week and want this signed before I leave. Can you do that? I’ve been putting this off for a long time and promised the wife I’d get it done before I go.”

“When do you leave?”

“I fly out on the 24th and would like to get this in place before I leave.”

“Can do, but we need to move quickly. So, you’re married. Any kids?”

“Yes, from my first marriage.”

“Are they adults?”


“Is their mother still around? If she is, the kids would just go to her as their natural parent if something happened to you before they turned 18.”

“No. She passed when the kids were little.”

“Oh, sorry. Would your wife be the guardian if something happened to you?”

He nodded. “Yes, she said she’d do that.”

“What about property – any real estate? Own your own house?”

“I have a big place up north – house, warehouse, shop. It’s all tied up in my business. That would all go to my wife.”

“Tell me about your business.”

“I have a fulfillment house. Take and deliver orders worldwide.”

“Kind of like Amazon …”

He chuckled, deepening into a belly laugh. “Kind of.” As he grinned I could see that his teeth were slightly stained, and I thought I detected the aroma of pipe in his laugh.

“So … everything just going to your wife? Sounds pretty straightforward. Would she be the executor, and power of attorney for financial and money matters?”

“Well … my wife really doesn’t understand the business. She’s the bookkeeper, and also a stay-at-home mom, which is a full-time job with all the kids, and she’s fine with all the pets … I have a real menagerie, some pretty exotic stuff … and she’d be okay with the house and the rest of the real estate … but I’d want somebody to help her with actually running the business.”

I nodded. “She could just hire a manager, if something happened to you. That way she could have final say, but get the help she needed. Or you could have a trustee run the business, and let him or her use the shop and warehouse to keep the business running. The trust could give your wife and kids all the profits, and even pay salaries to family members as long as the amounts were reasonable. We’d want to keep the business viable if that’s the way you’re supporting the family. What do you think?”

He ran his fingers through his thick, white beard as he pondered. “What a gorgeous mane,” I thought.

“I think I’ll just leave it to her, and let her make that decision. She’s really savvy, just never had to run the business by herself. I think she can figure it out if something happens to me. I don’t want her having to ask anybody’s permission for what she needs. She can be power of attorney, that kind of stuff, too.”

“That’s all fairly easy. What do you want to happen if your wife doesn’t survive you?”

“Hmm …” he reflected. “Hadn’t really thought about that. What do most people do?”

Typical man, I thought. “If your wife predeceased you, usually the money would go to the kids, and we’d name a successor guardian and a trustee, since the kids couldn’t receive their inheritance until they were adults. Who would take care of the kids’ money? Who would take care of the kids?”

“I really don’t have any family. I’ve been reading your articles … that’s why I’m here … do you do that kind of thing?”

“I could be trustee, executor, agent under financial power of attorney, yes, I’d be honored, but I’m really not comfortable as guardian of your kids or medical decisionmaker.”

“That’s what I meant, trustee, all that financial stuff. The kids have special needs, and the trust would probably go for their whole lives. I’ll have to get back to you on the guardian and medical.”

“Okay, we have enough to get started. I’ll have my paralegal get draft documents together this afternoon … we have other stuff going on, but I think we can prioritize this. Can we meet tomorrow to go over things? Can you have me a backup guardian and medical agent by tomorrow?”

He nodded. “Guess I’ll have to. Can I text you names and addresses?”

“Sure. I should tell you that I don’t work for free, that I charge fees for being trustee, executor, financial agent … but in this case, I’ll waive all that.” I stood up, extended my hand. “See you tomorrow. It’s a pleasure, Mr. Claus.”


Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
Mount Airy
Maryland 21771

 (301) 829-3778

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