By Colin Patrick Brady
Maureen E. Williams of Strategic Hourglass Systems provides an essential service out of her Chatham headquarters. But it is one for which, she says, “tragedy was the catalyst.” When Williams received news that her nephew, Shayne, had died at age 32 in a house fire, he had none of the essential paperwork in order to allow for his property to be tended to in a timely manner. “My nephew did not have a will, trust or insurance paperwork set aside, and the burned out house sat in probate for nine months before my family could do anything with it,” Williams recalled. “A lot of the paperwork he did have was lost in the fire.” This was when it became clear to her that she would devote her business acumen to getting out the message of the necessity of strategic financial planning.
After this personal loss, Williams decided “one of the most loving and generous things you can do for someone is to aid in their estate planning and centralizing all their essential documents.” To be sure, difficult questions must be asked. “Say your mom and dad are to be moved into a nursing home. What exactly do they want done with their estate and personal effects? My organizing business is not about rearranging or organizing your closets or kitchen cabinets. I am going to help you organize your financial life.”
Williams is acutely aware of the touchy nature of her enterprise, including morbid feelings which discussing death and end-of-life decisions can engender. “People don’t want to think about death,” Williams says, “but again, it is a loving thing to do for yourself and for others, to have everything and all your documents in order, so that your legacy can continue on after you are gone.”
Strategic Hourglass Solutions offers an array of business and personal options. “Our specialization is the organizing of records both personal and business-related, so that these documents and records may be easily accessed when needed,” Williams said. Business-organizing options she provides include succession planning, profitability analysis, records retention and digital filing. For those wishing to keep their personal affairs in order, Williams offers estate planning, budgeting options and organizing of personal records should death or disability of a loved one befall a family. One question commonly put to clients by Williams: “Do you have a will, and if so, has it recently been updated and are all beneficiaries you wish to include represented?” Regarding the name of her business, the hourglass motif in the company’s title and brochure are apt. As Williams says, “Sooner or later, we all will run out of time.”
Another potential pitfall Williams helps her clients prepare for is the danger of identity theft. Williams herself was the victim of identity theft in 2006. She also stresses the importance of having your documents centrally collated and frequently updated, which can help hedge many inconveniences that come along with someone else exploiting your identity and personal information.
Williams is a Pawnee native who lived in Texas for 27 years and attended the University of Houston. She is a member of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and will be presenting a seminar at Lincoln Land Community College on April 9, 2016, where she will provide instruction on how to organize financial records, along with the importance of reliable personal and business recordkeeping. Williams can be contacted by phone at 299-1366 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colin Patrick Brady is a freelance writer in Decatur.