Probate or Rectal Exam: Which is Worse?
Hopefully you haven’t landed here because you are about to face the probate system and are looking for a loophole. If so, may God be with you on the dreadful path ahead!
If you’re looking at the cost of an estate plan and thinking, “My parents’ estate isn’t worth much; an estate plan just isn’t something OUR family needs,” let me walk you through the NON-FINANCIAL reasons why estate planning is worth it.
So, your last remaining parent passes away and there’s no estate plan in place. Everyone is devastated. Mourning is in order. And a funeral is to be prepared… but with whose money?
You cannot access the deceased’s finances -- those are going through probate, remember? Someone has to fork out that money and wait for the entire probate process to resolve BEFORE getting reimbursed. You can petition for a premature distribution, but that requires you petition the court, meaning you need to either be the executor or have an attorney. Also, guess when courts are open... 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. And if ONE thing is out of order in your request... take a number, get another court date, and come back to try again. So, which one of your family members wants to fork out the dough to then wait for THAT process to play out?
Now let’s think about an additional headache. WHO has a claim to the estate? Any step or half-siblings? Estranged family? You can’t just tell the probate court, “My two other siblings and I are the heirs to the estate; our step-sibling was only in the picture for five years in grade school, and we haven’t talk to him in years.” These are not easy issues to solve, and remember, the entire estate and all beneficiaries’ inheritances are idle until YOU complete the necessary probate steps. If I were to wager money on at least one family member becoming an impatient nightmare, I believe I would win far more then I would lose.
Not to mention, probate is public. That’s right. You can search any probate case, as a public record, and see who got what. This can cause all sorts of privacy and trust issues. Should your parents or grandparents appear well off, anyone can go look at the public probate records and find out how much YOU inherited. I have heard from plenty of individuals who have either been awarded a settlement, received an inheritance, or sold a business, “The amount of people who came out of the woodwork and wanted to either be friends or expressed a need was shocking.” For some people, the cost of the estate plan is worth the privacy alone!
Now there are a few ways around fronting the cost of the funeral expenses as pointed out by this article here. But with the amount of time it would take on the work around, why not solve the issue with an estate plan that solve MANY issues. The list of benefits (both financial and non-financial) goes on, but having to work within the court’s hours of operation, proving who has rights to the estate, and the risk of exposing estate information are three VERY good reasons you should talk to your family about estate planning.
Find an estate planner near you OR look into cost-efficient estate planning such as Helios Integrated Planning by sending us a request from our website found here.
This information is provided for educational purposes. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.