Once you ask a Florida probate attorney what your family goes through after your death, you may start caring…a lot.
It is Wednesday morning and I’m meeting with a lovely couple about their Estate Plan. The question has turned to whether a Complex Will or a Revocable Trust is more fitting for their estate. There are big differences between the two. As their estate planning attorney, I want to make sure they understand the result each will bring.
I set forth the major differences between the plans outside of management of their funds, namely probate and privacy. The couple listen to my explanation and the wife laughs and says, “So I should pay more for you to draft a trust just so my family doesn’t have to pay for a probate? I’ll be dead. I don’t care what happens and I’m sure they can deal with it.”
Florida probate with an attorney is not so bad
My heart sinks when I hear this. I’m also a Florida probate attorney. Every week it seems, I receive a call from a crying adult overwhelmed with the “mess” left behind by a loved one. We become so numb to things that I ask you to re-read what I just said.
I get calls from strangers that are so upset, they are actually crying during our call.
How often do you witness an adult stranger crying to you?
They aren’t angry. Rather, the family is sad and overwhelmed. There is conflict, anxiety and despair. Fear is there too. Who will pay for these medical bills and what happens now? It is the great unknown and a time to hunker down and get a lot of work done (which, by the way, is the last thing people want to do when they are experiencing a loss).
Florida Probate is a complex court case gripped with emotions, even with an attorney
Often, this is the probate process. This is what you are trying to avoid. It is not just about the money, although it can be a substantial savings to set up your estate to avoid probate. By paying a couple of thousand to obtain a Trust, you will avoid about $3,000 to upwards of $10,000 in probate costs. Yes, the money is something to think about it.
But when you fail to plan, what you are doing is telling your family that they need to initiate a court case upon your death complete with filing fees, hiring an attorney, notarizing petitions for court submission, notifying creditors, publishing notices in the paper, conflict between family members as to the proper direction to take, and waiting for an order before funds may be disbursed.
It means hiring asset finders/private investigators, pulling credit reports, looking for old taxes. Opening a probate consists of finding estate planning documents, looking through checkbooks for payments to an attorney, paying for funeral costs, obtaining death certificates, dealing with bureaucratic banks and more.
Many of those that have experienced probate want to avoid it for their own families and loved ones.
Failing to Plan
My client was not a bad person. She merely uttered a tongue-in-cheek response to the fear she actually felt about death. My client doesn’t realize that by failing to plan, she left a court case for her loved ones, that may turn contentious, but that mostly is a burden.
You do care what happens after you die. Once you know what your family will experience, you care.
February 2021 is “Heart Hero” month at Law Office of Lori Vella. Planning your estate is a great act of love. Give love to your family by reducing their workload, stress, anxiety and despair. It is money well-spent.
Lori Vella is an Estate Planning and Business Attorney. She works virtually throughout Florida and New York, but has her home office in Tampa, Florida. She is mom to a little boy which ignited the passion for helping other families. She and her son enjoy car rides, playgrounds and taking mini-adventures. They also have an organic garden that surprisingly yields vegetables. Lori considers herself well-versed in Seinfeld and welcomes any trivia!
Disclaimer: The Law Office of Lori Vella’s website contains general information directed to Florida residents. This firm does not intend to give legal advice through its pages and/or blog. If you need legal advice, we encourage you to find an attorney licensed in your state. This language on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and this firm.