A lawyer recently told a group of us a client of his wanted to put language in his Last Will & Testament dealing with the rapture. The lawyer asked us for input on how to do so and here are some of our thoughts:
Washington state statutes provide for what’s called an absentee estate (RCW 11.80). Under the statute, someone can petition a court to establish a trustee over the property of an absentee. The trustee will need to provide a bond and file an inventory and can pay debts and liquidate assets if necessary.
– An absentee’s estate can be distributed on a provisional basis after five years. RCW 11.80.080 provides that a will can be admitted to the court at this time. If there is a strong presumption the absentee is dead, the will can be admitted prior to the five year period.
– After seven years, a Court can make the provisional distribution final, end the trusteeship, and close the estate.
It seems to us as if a testator can make a number of provisions for this process in a will.
1. In light of the rapture, a testator can suggests a specific trustee for the absentee estate. The testator should choose a trustee he does not believe will be raptured too or the purpose of the exercise would be defeated. The testator can also suggest that the trustee serve without the need to post a bond (which the statute requires).
2. While the testator would not consider the rapture “death,” he could ask that a presumption of “death” be made by the Court if the client, along with many others, go inexplicably missing at the same time due to the rapture. While speculative, if faced with tens of thousands of absentee estate petitions due to the event of the rapture, the overwhelmed courts are likely to agree to the presumption for the purposes of judicial economy. This would hopefully provide for near immediate distribution of the testator’s assets.
Attorneys at Bedford Law Office are available to help you incorporate your sincerely held religious belief into your estate plan. Call for an appointment.