We received a lot of feedback on our Blog last week written by my colleague, Holly Allardyce, about locating estate assets. Readers shared some interesting stories from their experiences as a professional executor about where they have found cash and other assets that their deceased clients hid while they were alive. I have picked a couple of these stories from across the country to share with you.
Tiny Treasured Train Set
Two dedicated Trust Officers from the East Coast were working to clear the contents from a house in order to prepare it for sale. Prior to the property being listed, one of the beneficiaries insisted that the Trust Officers return to the property to find and send to him a toy Lionel Train set that had been missing since his childhood. After hunting high and low in the property, no toy train set could be found. The only remaining possible location to search was a small dirt filled, unlit crawl space in the basement. Understanding the sentimental value of a childhood toy, the Trust Officers knew that they had to check this one final spot. They drew straws. The loser took a deep breath, plunged into the crawl space and came back out record time, with the missing train set in hand. A good ending with a satisfied beneficiary and nominal dry cleaning charge for the trust officer’s suit!
Tracking Down the Tug Boat
Another Trust Officer told us about the time he was assigned to manage the Estate of a client who lived on a remote, heavily forested property on a remote tiny island off Vancouver Island. The Family had advised him that they thought the deceased owned a tug boat. Unfortunately there were no records, bills or key for the tug boat found in the property. The only evidence that a boat may have existed was an old and small copy of a “For Sale” sign pinned on a wall in the property. The Trust Officer took the paper printout and drove around the island going from one marina to another, also stopping and asking many of the of the 1750 people live on the island if they knew about the tug. Eventually someone recognized the picture of the tug boat and directed the Trust Officer to where it was located. Small communities have an alluring quality where everyone knows each other and this certainly helped the Trust Officer as he went door to door looking for clues. Detective work at its best!
Careful With the Cat Litter
The following story comes from a Trust Officer in Edmonton. The deceased was a single lady who lived alone with her cats. When it came time to administer her estate, the first matter for the Trust Officer was to secure the house. This included a diligent search for information and possibly cash. When the Trust Officer found some cash hidden between sheets in the linen closet and in kitchen cabinets and various other places she wanted to make sure she did not miss anything. She wasn’t entirely surprised to find gold coins and gold bars hidden the cat food bags. However, this lead the Trust Officer to the litter boxes, where sure enough she found more gold coins and gold bars. Makes one paws to wonder.