But There Was Supposed to Be More!

Sometimes, your heirs and beneficiaries will receive a smaller inheritance than any of you thought.

While we rarely look forward to the passing of a loved one, it is human to wonder about what you might be inheriting. When new Probate Clients call us, their first question is usually, “Can you help us figure out how much money is in this estate?” Since Executors and Trustees are usually required to share this information when they have it, you may be tempted to start spending money that you don’t have quite yet. You’ll be getting a certain percentage of that estate, right? No worries about finally buying that car that was just a little out of reach, or dipping into your savings to make the final payment on your student loans! You’ll be able to pay yourself back soon – probably.

Let me tell you why mentally spending this inheritance before receipt can be dangerous.

Most estates will have a number of expenses to settle before the heirs receive their inheritance. I will tell you more about those expenses below but don’t forget that settling these debts can cause the amount a beneficiary receives to differ significantly from what Grandma promised she’d be passing along.

  1. Creditor Claims. This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of probate. The Executor or Trustee has to figure out if the deceased owed money to anyone. Take my own grandparents for example: they keep every receipt they have ever received somewhere in their house.. but nothing is together. They’ve retained statements from three decades in fear of losing something important. That can mean hours of sorting through financial records and calling potential creditors to determine if they have any outstanding payments. The Executor may have to publish a notice in an appropriate newspaper. There is a duty to determine the validity of these claims and pay off anything due. In a worst case scenario, there may be nothing left for the heirs after creditors are paid.

Do you want to be Scrooge McDuck, or help creditors get closer to their own mountain of gold?

If this is a concern that you have, give us a call at 614-429-1053. Attorneys Charles or Phil would be happy to spend some time with you discussing your options to protect your estate or that of a loved one from these claims.

2. Estate Expenses. Creditor Claims aren’t the only bills that the estate has to pick up. A few examples are:

  • Burial and Funeral Expenses
  • Tax Preparation Fees
  • Property Appraisal Fees
  • Shipping and Storing Personal Property
  • Home Repairs and Maintenance of Real Estate
  • Attorney’s Fees
  • Trustee/Executor’s Fees and;
  • Probate Court Fees

These items can be incredibly expensive when you are trying to cover every unexpected bill as it comes in. Some of these fees can be reduced or even eliminated completely with good planning during the deceased’s lifetime. We would be happy to help you prepare an estate plan to protect your family from fielding these unexpected expenses after your passing! We love to see our Clients but attorney involvement after passing can be significantly reduced with a good estate plan, and by nature, our fees as well.

3. Litigation Expenses. Even America’s most loved families didn’t always get along.

Remember this moment between Jan and Marcia at the breakfast table?

You don’t remember that part? Sure, Jan.

What about when Little Stephanie Tanner stole DJ’s role in the commercial? We ALL remember that. Here’s a clip to job your memory.

While us non-fiction people aren’t in a tv-show, we still may find ourselves in disagreements or outright fights with our beloved family members from time to time. Usually this is something that we can get over, or at least ignore until it becomes a distant memory, but that is not the case when these fights happen during probate.

Arguments during probate can be one of the most financially disastrous things to impact what is available for distribution to heirs or beneficiaries. When such disagreements cannot be resolved through mediation or negotiation, the gloves come off, and everyone will lawyer up and settle in for a long, drawn-out court battle. In such cases, the attorney fees alone can spiral into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These probably don’t sound like fun ways to spend your money before it even gets to you. If you want to learn more about how to avoid probate (and these costs) get in touch with our office for an estate planning consult. Even if you are about to enter into probate or have opened an estate, it isn’t too late! Let us see how we can help you maximize your inheritance!

Give us a call at 614-429-1053 or send an email to courtney@lawdublin.com