Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween May Be Scary, But Probate Could Be Your Worst Nightmare!

This is the story of Ella, a client in her mid-fifties whose father recently passed away and whose mother died when she was a child.  Her father’s Will stated that his estate, including real estate in Virginia and Florida, and $250,000 in additional assets, would be divided equally among his four children.  Ella’s sister, Christine, was the executor.  Upon their father’s death, Christine moved into the family home in Virginia, which she lived in rent-free. She deliberately delayed the closing of the estate for five years, which kept the probate going in both states and proved to be very costly.  All the while, Christine paid no utilities bills, wrote checks for food and other personal expenses using the estate’s checking account and bought many high priced items (cars and designer clothing).  She refused to give her siblings ANY information about what was going on concerning the estate.

How could this situation have been avoided?  If Ella’s father had a Living Trust at his death, the trust assets would have been quickly distributed to all of the siblings, according to the terms of the trust. There would not have been the five-year delay and the hefty fees of probate in both states, and Christine wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the situation. 
At The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we would have recommended a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) for  Ella’s father, because he owns real estate in more than one state.  As was the case in Ella’s situation, without the RLT, the estate had  to go through probate in both states. An RLT could have provided how the real estate and other trust property would have been distributed at Ella’s father’s death, and saved his children a lot of time, emotional pain, and money. Read more about RLTs.

If you haven’t already done so, sign up for our newsletter today, and receive a fascinating four-part Special Report, entitled “Lessons Learned from Estate Planning Mistakes of Celebrities,” highlighting the true nightmarish probate stories of celebrities like Amy Winehouse, Michael Crichton, Etta James, and Whitney Houston.

P.S. There is still time to take advantage of your 10% discount off all planning in honor of National Estate Planning Awareness Week (Offer valid for the remainder of this month, from October 23-31, 2012). Call The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. today at 703-691-1888.  

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