North Dakota farmer Darrel Hendrickson made his living from the rich farmland of the aptly named Richland County. Even though he lived outside its city limits, Mr. Hendrickson loved the town of Colfax and wanted to remember the Richland County community in his will. And remember them he did! Local schools and churches will share in the more than $4.5 million estate Mr. Hendrickson accumulated throughout his life tilling and cultiviating the land. These gifts have obviously left the local community speechless. As a local school official stated, “I’m just marveling at this”. I must say that I am too!
Have you ever thought about what people might say about you after you are gone? Probably not. It’s not a topic that most of us would like to dwell on. But if I ever were to dwell on it, I would like for it to be something like the beautiful tribute the sister of Surprise Millionaire Evelyn Haley made to her. Evelyn appears to have been a very interesting lady who lived a full life. As you might have guessed, she was quite thrifty too. I guess that would explain the $3 million estate she left to benefit her community!
Jon Rohr of tiny Limon Colorado was a wealthy man but you couldn’t prove it by his lifestyle. The manager of the local electric cooperative, Mr. Rohr was known for driving an old car without air conditioning and preferring to shop at thrift stores instead of the local shopping malls. It was this frugal lifestyle which gave the townspeople the impression Mr. Rohr was not a “man of means”. Imagine their surprise when this same gentleman left a multi-million dollar estate to benefit the community!
As we discussed last week, one of the most important things a Surprise Millionaire can do is to make sure their wishes are known prior to their passing. Unfortunately, I have stumbled upon another story with a Surprise Millionaire’s will, this time from the United Kingdom. Retired mid-wife and nurse, Joan Edwards thought she had done it completely right. She contacted her local solicitors and had a last will and testament drawn up making (she thought) her last wishes known. It appears that even with all of this preparation, the specifics of the will’s bequest were still open to interpretation. It was unfortunately left to the government (and its political parties) to sort it all out. I guess I need to amend my cautions on this subject to include, “make your wishes known, make them legal and make them very clear.
This week we have yet another Surprise Millionaire who didn’t draft a formal last will and testament to make her wishes known. However, this particular person did at least scribble a few things on the back of a postcard! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will once again implore all of you potential Surprise Millionaires out there to make a will, make it legal and let a responsible person know what your wishes are. When so much time and effort is spent accumulating wealth over a lifetime, it seems a shame not to ensure that the funds are distributed in a way that best honors the giver.