For the Bright Side News
My godfather uncle and my godmother aunt passed away within the past few
months. They both lived relatively long lives and the deaths were not
unexpected. One godparent had a lot of assets and property in the estate
and the other did not. Both had
but one of those wills could not be found. Accordingly, the estate with
a lot of assets was probated with the will as a testate estate. In the
estate with only a few assets, the will was not found and that estate
was intestate. In fact there were so few assets that it didn't make
any sense to probate the estate and go through all the trouble of the
probate process. In the estate with a lot of assets, the will was probated and that
process has continued for months and months.
Another uncle, as the petitioning executor of the estate with lots of
assets, has had to do a lot of work including contacting a total of 17
different individuals and get their signatures of approval before he submitted
the papers to the probate court. He also has had to get the probate court's
approval on a listing of assets, inventory, and a detailed accounting
of the estate's financials. There have been a lot of visits to the
probate court and hours upon hours detailing the estate assets to correctly
divide the assets among 17 people.
I feel for this uncle, the executor. I know how much work is involved
when probating the estate with lots of assets and lots of beneficiaries.
He showed me the work. I was impressed with his diligence. But I don't
think my late godparent fully understood the amount of work that my uncle,
the executor, would have to do to handle that estate. Even though my godparent
had a will, this was one of those situations where a trust would have
been much better and easier for everyone.
If there was a trust, then my uncle would have been the trustee. He would
have been relieved of visiting the court, filing a listing of assets and
estate inventory, and he could have started distributing estate assets
right away. Moreover, the estate handling with a trust would have been
private, quicker, less expensive, and would have saved my uncle a lot
of time and effort. My godparent did not know how much harder my uncle
was going to work because of the will and the lack of a trust - but if
it was known how much work was going to result from the will-based estate
plan, I know my pragmatic godparent would have chosen to get a trust.
Even though trusts can do many great things for a family, the making of
estate handling easier for the surviving family is the biggest reason
my clients get a trust. They invest in their legacy. The benefits gained
by the family both now and hereafter, by far outweigh the costs of making a
trust-based estate plan now.