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By Liza Horvath


Expressions of Love


Some may believe that a career in the field of death and dying could be dismal or disheartening, but nothing could be further from the truth. Tax, estate and inheritance laws are always changing so the field continues to be intellectually stimulating. Additionally, estate law is the most litigated area of law so we must always be vigilant of the risks involved and, in truth, it is a recession proof job – as I have said, no one gets out alive. Estate administration will take place – whether it is planned or not.  


The challenges are stimulating but the best part of working in this field is the opportunity to witness human behavior at its best – and, at times and unfortunately, at its worst. When a loved one has passed, a grieving spouse faces life without a partner with whom they may have spent decades and siblings, at the loss of parents, jockey for positon and all too often exhibit appalling behavior.


It is the planning process, however, that often allows us to witness our fellow man at his best – contemplating life, thoughtfully making decisions and expressing care and deep concern for the ongoing welfare of loved ones. At times a client’s reflection can involve the recognition that a spouse or child lacks certain strengths and could, in fact, be vulnerable after we are gone.  


A colleague and I were recently discussing a mutual client with admiration. This client, Gustavo, had been a successful international businessman and in the planning process recognized that should he predecease his wife, that she would be unable to assume the financial responsibilities of administering the household budget, managing family investments or addressing income tax responsibilities. Gustavo’s wife is a smart, elegant woman but she admits that she has never had to deal with these things and is not, in fact, interested in ever doing so.  


So Gustavo has set out to find a tax preparer that will work well for her when the time comes, investment managers that are responsible and communicative and an attorney who will give her appropriate attention, support and – most importantly - treat her with respect. Gustavo found that his first pick for an attorney did not fit. “Don’t worry, we will take care of everything,” the well-schooled lawyer with a pristine reputation advised the couple when they visited but there is this fine line – and the well-intentioned attorney just crossed it. Gustavo and his wife are not looking for advisors who will “take over,” they need professionals that will work collaboratively as a team – a team that includes the wife – that strikes a perfect blend of support, advice and mutual respect.


The couple continues to search for the perfect set of advisors and have found an investment management team who are Accredited Investment Fiduciaries (AIF) - sworn to manage investments for the benefit of the client and not “churn” accounts or otherwise take advantage. They are now seeking a tax advisor who is similarly committed to client service.


Gustavo is gaining peace of mind that should he go first, his spouse, the love of his life, will be surrounded by a supportive team. We, the team, are fortunate to witness, first hand, this expression of love.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com










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