Here’s the way it typically happens…
Mr. and Mrs. S. Tate finally decide that they should update their will. They know someone who knows an attorney, so they make an appointment to see him. They make a few simple decisions, and in a week sign and witness some documents. They write a check, and they are finished; mission accomplished.
Life goes on, and several years later, Mr. Steven Tate dies, leaving Ms. (Esta) Tate to cope with the details of Steven’s financial affairs. Esta has a little knowledge about their financial affairs, but is not in a good state of mind to deal with the issues. The Tates’ older daughter Maryland lives in Denver, and son, Ernest, who is not particularly, is local. The attorney who wrote the documents for Ms. Tate years before, Mr. Lawless, Esq., is now repenting, living in a monastery in the Himalayan Mountains, and not taking on any more clients.
Some weeks later, Ms. Tate finds a new attorney to help her deal with Mr. Tate’s financial affairs. First, there is an expensive “discovery” process. They quickly find out that no steps were ever taken to implement the provisions in the will, or to arrange things so that ownership of Mr. Tate’s accounts and assets could pass easily to their intended recipients. Beneficiary designations on Mr. Tate’s retirement accounts had never been updated, and the property they acquired 3 years ago will have to go through probate in Delaware, because it was not titled properly. Ms.
Tate quickly comes to the realization that this is going to be an expensive, time consuming process. On top of it, she has to deal with the conflicts between daughter Maryland and son Ernest, because neither of them understands the expense and delay. She finds that she may also have to pay over $100,000 in additional income tax and MD state estate tax.
We have watched this same sad story repeat itself over and over again. Estate planning can be a complicated area, and we have discovered that people need an advocate to help them understand the ins and outs so that they can make the best choices.
We help clients through all three phases of Estate Planning:
- Planning & Review — Making sure your estate is structured and organized in proper fashion to minimize delays and expenses.
- Family Summit — Making sure family members know what they need to know to maintain family harmony.
- Estate Settlement — Providing guidance every step of the way in the estate settlement process.
If you haven’t talked to us about how we can advocate for you in our Estate Planning service, give us a call at 410-461-3900.