The woman wore frumpy house dresses, drove a beat-up old Chevy Cavalier, lived modestly in a two-family house on Washington Avenue across from Albany High School and harbored an astonishing secret. Few realized she was the millionaire next door, possessed of an investment portfolio that included tens of thousands of shares of Exxon Mobil and other stocks and bonds.

Millionaires come in all forms. They aren’t always flashing their diamond rings or driving fancy cars. Could your low-key neighbor secretly be a millionaire?

When Phyllis Stone passed away most people in Albany assumed she was an ordinary elderly woman. After all, she lived a simple life in a rundown old home and drove an old beat-up vehicle. However, when the details of Stone’s will began to emerge, it quickly became clear that she was in fact a very wealthy woman.

As reported by the Times Union in an article titled Modest woman turned out to be millionaire next door, Stone had amassed a small fortune worth approximately $6 million.

Most of her estate was left to local charities who never knew she was wealthy or even a potential donor. As it turns out, Stone lived an eventful life and even went to Grateful Dead concerts when she was in her 80s. In addition, she knew members of the band personally.

Most people in Stone’s situation do not think they need an estate plan. Stone was never married and had no children. Similarly situated people are often content to leave their estates through probate to their closest living relatives as provided by state intestacy laws. However, because Stone went to an estate planning attorney, she was able to devise an estate plan that will do wonders for charities in the community in which she lived. She could have also used her estate plan to give money to specific family members.

Whether you live simply or extravagantly, if you have assets, then you should follow the example of Phyllis Stone and get your estate plan implemented.

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