I recently had the opportunity to speak with two children of a client of mine who had passed away. These children were informed that I was their mother’s estate lawyer and that my firm had set up her estate legal documents several years ago. These two adult children came into my office and we had a meeting about the settlement of their late mother’s estate.
I explained to these two children that normally when I discuss estate settlement with a surviving family members, we are either having the discussion because mom or dad died with a will or without a will. I discussed with my client’s adult children that in this scenario we have to start a probate proceeding. I explained that this entails filing a number of different legal documents with the courthouse, we have to wait for the judge to respond to us before getting access to frozen bank and frozen investment accounts, and then we have to wait until all the expenses and final debts are paid before being authorized to distribute what is left to the surviving family members. In addition, I explained that normally we have to either confirm the executor or discuss who is going to be appointed and confirmed as the administrator of the estate (and this is another step, more delays, and most costs). I explained to these two adult children of my client that this process usually lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years or longer, and will cost the family upwards of $20,000 or more.
However, I discussed with these two adult children that many years ago her mother had established a revocable living trust and we assisted her in retitling all of her assets into the name of this trust. In addition, I explained that because we did this, the probate proceeding that I referenced earlier was not even needed. I explained to the surviving children who was going to be the successor trustee of their mother’s trust, and all of their mother’s assets was going to be divided between the two of them within days as opposed to months or years.
The surviving adult children were absolutely relieved and ecstatic that their mother had the foresight to set up her estate legal affairs in advance so that a long and delayed probate court process would not be necessary.
If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee or how you can set up your legal affairs so that your assets are protected and you provide a smooth transition to your loved ones, then I encourage you to attend one of our live free educational events scheduled this month. At these events you will hear a lot of real life stories about families that paid thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses, families that were able to avoid unnecessary expenses, and families that enjoyed zero government intrusion into their families’ private lives.
I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!