Almost everybody has been through the experience of losing someone close.
When people are younger it's often one's relatives, such as grandparents,
aunts and uncles who pass away. Naturally, with age, one will experience
the loss of friends, siblings and most difficult of all, the deaths of
spouses and children. If you are reading this, it's likely you've
been through at least one of these painful transitions. It's also
possible that you've handled the affairs of your deceased relative
or friend (i.e. Probate). The probate of an estate of a loved one is just
one of those things in life that y
ou will have to deal with one way or another. Furthermore, as a
parent to the children you have borne and as a helpful member of your family, you will also need to deal with
the planning of your own estate matters. With that said, be a responsible
member of your family and society, and handle life-and-death transitions
in the best possible manner. I know it's not easy, so why make it
harder by trying to do it all yourself?
I have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for those dealing with
the death of a loved one. It can be extremely difficult for a person to
move forward after the loss of a spouse or child. Additionally, financial
institutions may refuse to hand over life insurance and pension monies
badly needed by the surviving family. There are also creditors who will
demand claims on the estate. Lastly, the bereaved individual will need
to deal with the county probate court and its detailed rules for the probate
Recently I was in the probate court with the widow of my longest-served
client. I wrote her and her husband's will and estate plans years
before, and now we were filing for the probate of her husband's estate.
After we presented the required and complete probate petition documents
and she swore an oath to uphold her duty as executor, the court immediately
granted her the legal papers needed to liquidate accounts, transfer titles
and receive insurance monies on behalf of her deceased husband. No court
hearing was needed, all of the heirs approved of the probate handling,
and everyone was as happy as they could be - for having recently dealt
with the death of a husband and father.
When a person does not have the help of an experienced probate attorney,
it's not so easy. The person trying to probate the estate will almost
definitely experience at least two, if not several, frustrating and clue-seeking
trips to the probate court before getting to the point of having the needed
paperwork accepted by the court. After that point, additional notifications,
publications and actions are required before the court will issue the
necessary legal paperwork. Ultimately the person needs to pay a filing
fee to the probate court whether or not they are assisted by an attorney.
Even after that point the probate filer is not guaranteed approval as
the executor or administrator.
In my experience, most people do not know how to probate an estate, though
most people are capable of learning how to do so through trial and error.
The prudent person should know that the actual "costs" of probating
an estate without an estates lawyer is the time + frustration + money.
There is a lot of time spent in failed attempts to probate, repeated visits
to the probate court, and understanding and meeting probate requirements.
Money may be the least expensive part of a DIY Probate. I've seen
families ripped apart in the resolution of the probate process, where,
with a little foresight and planning, the family conflict may have never happened.
It's angst, frustration and conflict that leads to a troubled life
and early death. The cost of anything we pay or do is simply a product
of the money spent and the time used. You can waste your time and money
and try to act like a lawyer. You can unnaturally shorten your life or
play a part in the fracturing of your family. You can leave behind a big
probate mess. You can even slog through the mess of probate that was left
for you to handle, all by yourself. Taking well-intentioned shortcuts
when dealing with life and death matters is the most expensive thing you
could do. But you don't have to.
Robert S. Meyring, of Meyring Law Firm offers free 10 minute phone evaluations at 678-217-4369.
The Meyring Law Firm is located 200 feet east of the railroad crossing
on Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. More information at