Loss of a Loved One and the Law
We have lost three dear friends in the past two months. In only one of the three instances did the person who passed away plan for their passing. In that family, there was time to be together and reminisce and celebrate the life of their loved one. It was a peaceful time and quite beautiful to witness. In the other two instances, it was unexpected and quite tragic, especially because they had not prepared. In the midst of the family's grief, they now have the task of finding out where the decedent’s bank accounts are located, what debts they have, did they have life insurance to pay for expenses, etc. It becomes a scavenger hunt that no one wants to play. It’s quite sad and most often rips families apart.
Why do we avoid preparing for our eventual passing? Fear, I suppose. At our office, we make planning easy, fast, and affordable. We aim to partner with you to keep your family united after you are no longer with them. You probably have an idea of what goes into estate planning, and a will is part of that, but it's not just a will, and they are not cookie-cutter.
If someone passes away with or without a will, their property must go through probate. “Probate” is one of the dirtiest words in all of the estate planning. It is a myth that probate takes years. Many clients try to avoid it, but going through probate isn’t so bad for some clients. Probate, after all, is the normal course for processing a person’s will. It’s designed to manage, settle and distribute the client’s property according to the terms of the will.
What Triggers a Probate Situation?
If the decedent owned any property in their name alone. For instance, bank accounts with no beneficiaries or property owned alone. If you own property jointly with your spouse, there is no probate. The property passes to the surviving spouse. If all of your assets contain beneficiary designations, there will be no probate after your death.
When determining what plan you want to create, get a realistic understanding of the costs and benefits of various available techniques, so you can use your judgment and not be controlled by fear.
Please don’t leave your family overwhelmed with conflict, anxiety, and despair after you pass. Leave them with your executed plan and all your information about your assets and debts in one place. It’s the loving thing to do.