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MemorabiliaThe elderly friend on the other end of the phone called to request a favor. Please come sit with me and help me craft my obituary. His time was running out.

This is a person who has lived life well. He has lived with purpose and class; a man to be admired for his contribution to mankind. He married but had no children to inherit the prosperity that he created in his lifetime. His wife long since passed, he wants to tie up the last of the loose ends that are this mortal life.

Where to start? Questions

This is a friend. I want to make sure he’s done all he can to prepare his estate for the day he’s no longer here. So we walk through all the questions I have in hopes of making sure we don’t miss anything.

Do you have a will? Yes? Where is it?

Do you have someone who has agreed to be the administrator for your estate? Yes? Who? What is their contact information?

Have you created a list of people that will have to be notified for your will to be probated? Yes? Is it with the will?
No? Then we need to make a list of your siblings and their contact addresses. If any of the siblings have passed then we need their children’s contact names and addresses.
Two siblings have passed. He has no idea where their children are. It is agreed that I will find these people ASAP. We need a complete list of all people who need to be notified. In Oregon, we notify down to the first cousin three times removed. Once we have a good address for every person he’s related to that list will be put with the will.

Do you want to have your DNA test completed now? Yes. He is the last of his line to his knowledge. He hopes it might help someone at some point to identify his yDNA line. It is agreed I’ll order his DNA test kit through both Ancestry.com and Family Tree DNA. I’ll be the administrator for these kits per his written instructions.

Obituary planning

He wants to leave an obituary that outlines his life. We are hoping to also work in his sense of humor and love of fishing and photography. We want to convey to anyone reading this obituary who he was. There are lots of photos to choose from, he picks a photo of himself at about 18 and one of him and his wife. He’s holding a couple of others in reserve as he considers our outline.

Full name
Date and place of birth
Where did you grow up? Attend school?
What college did you attend?
Where did you meet your wife?
Wife’s full name before marriage; date of marriage; place of marriage
He served in the military; give dates/places that he wants others to be aware of.
He wants people to know what he did for a living. The passion he put into his social outlets where he gave so much of his time.
He wants people to know he loved fishing and photography as well as a nice glass of wine and a fire on a winter’s night. (Yes, he was a romantic man!)
Survivors: Siblings names and city/state of residence. Other family names to be listed.
Predeceased by: Siblings names listed here as well as Father’s full name, Mother’s full name (maiden).

He is gone now. But he left us so much to remember him by!

Your turn

What else do you think would have been important to ask or to know about the person you’re working with?

More importantly, have you written YOUR obituary and taken care of your family by having a will, power of attorney and a Medical Directive created?

Contact me: If you have questions about locating missing heirs to your client’s estates please contact me at Leslie@LawsonResearch.net. I’m more than happy to help you understand my process to locate the missing heirs to your case.

Research Tip of the Month
Writing an obituary doesn’t have to be hard. There is a handy book you can use to help guide you through the process. It is called ObitKit. You can learn more about it at the obitkit.com website.