840 Days, that is how long it took for me to close down my trial lawyer husband’s estate.
His business was shut down in less than 14 days. The other 826 days were waiting for his life
insurance to pay.
Think about that, it seems unbelievable – right? My husband was diagnosed with Cancer on
August 8th, 2014 and he passed away 52 days later. Everything he had worked for blew up. I
had no clue what to do or who to trust.
I never really paid attention to my husband’s law practice, but there I was smack in the middle of grieving him and having to figure out what to do with everything down to his trash cans. I made calls to the Bar Association and they told me I would have to give clients notice, if they wanted their file, they could come get it without having to pay me a dime and I had to save all files for 7 years. I later learned that as an Executor, it was my job to collect any outstanding fees owed to my husband. There were marketing companies who were building a website for him that he had paid over $7,000 to and his legal assistant told me to call them for a refund. Of course, they said he never paid them. Our bookkeeper later found they were lying to me. Upon learning about his impending death, his work friends started calling his clients, taking files and things out of his office – “trying to help”. To add insult to injury my husband was trying to call his friends the day before he died, and they would not answer or call back. I thought how sad to die thinking your friends were too afraid to answer your calls.
The day after my husband passed away, his office mate was trying to charge a deposition to my husband’s credit card. Somehow the court reporter knew to call and verify, only to find out my husband was deceased. Three months later while going through emails I found that the same of colleague was still using my husband’s accounts for research. I had never shut it off. Everyone was taking as much as they could under the radar. We tried to get a hold of everything, but it was too late. I hired another lawyer to try and help but he was almost as lost as I was trying to figure out files, clients etc. since so much had mysteriously disappeared.
All those 26 years that my husband worked so hard was gone in a matter of a week. Furniture
was sold to a new tenant in the building for a fraction of the price. I had no guidance on where to start, and I had not even thought about what other options there were for me and my family to salvage this business.
Packing up someone’s business after they die is overwhelming. So how could this have gone
any better? Was there an upside?
In 2017 I created LOLA – Loss of Life Advocates. I work with families and business owners to
have the difficult conversations ahead of time, and provide guidance after a life transition so no one goes through what we went through.
1. Have the difficult conversations
2. Get your affairs prepared and in order.
Want to learn more? Check out our podcast:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LOLA’s Founder and Owner, Esther Cardenas Pipoly grew up in San Antonio, Texas and has first-hand knowledge about losing a loved one. Having lost her father and husband just 63 days apart in 2014, Esther knew that her life-long career in insurance and personal life experiences were leading her to help others in the most difficult of times – death. Having been the executor for both her father and husband’s estates, Esther hopes to prevent for others the obstacles she faced.