Everybody Knows: Wills Avoid Probate!
Reality Check: Wills Require Probate…
You are an expert for certain things. You know how to quilt. Or fish. Or woodwork. You might have learned on the job. Or as a hobby. But you are an expert. You know how this stuff works.
And then you hear someone else talk about it. A friend. A neighbor. Your brother-in-law. Maybe in the newspaper. And they get it wrong. Oh boy, so wrong. All wrong. A genuine achievement. Give that guy a blue ribbon! For wrongness.
Happens all the time, right?
It ain’t ignorance causes so much trouble; it’s folks knowing so much that ain’t so.
— Josh Billings, 1882
Announcing a New Feature on The Reporter: Things Everybody Knows, That Just Are Not So!
Things regular folks say and believe. That prevent effective action. Setting the record straight, one issue at a time. Shall we begin?
Reading Of The Will:
Who Gets The Leftovers?
For many folks, the question is: When I am dead, who gets the leftovers?
The answer, for many folks: Read the Last Will & Testament! Preferably on a foggy evening. In a creepy old house. With a creepy old lawyer. Surrounded by heirs of mixed ages and questionable virtue. Reading dramatically from the Will in his creaky old voice, the lawyer delivers deeds, heirlooms, and sacks of cash. Virtuous, good heirs rejoice. Evil, bad heirs plot their revenge! And it is all over in just a few minutes.
Would you be surprised to learn that reality is a bit different than the movies? After 2020, are you still shocked when the “experts” get it wrong?
What Is Probate?
Probate is how society cleans up your mess. What mess?
Basic Truth: Middle Class Michigan takes care of business. Handles things. Gets it done.
Right now, most of us own our home (with some help from the bank). And savings account. Investments. Furniture. You pay your bills. And file your taxes. You take care of you. And yours. Humming along like a top… No Problem! A nice tidy picture. You are a responsible person acting responsibly.
But what if things go wrong? What if you cannot take care of business? How could that happen?
If you are incapacitated… stroke, auto accident, Alzheimer’s? If you die. Who is taking care of your business now? Your nice tidy picture is not so nice and tidy anymore. It is a mess. Who does what? Who gets what? Now what?
Probate is the answer when folks do not plan. And most folks do not plan. Most folks wind up making a mess. Probate is the cleanup crew.
You Go To The Supermarket.
For A Loaf Of Bread. One Loaf Of Bread.
Have you ever tried this? Have you ever gone to the supermarket for a single item? And then before you find that single item… You gather up a dozen more groceries you cannot live without. This is how most people go through life. Carrying around their stuff in their own name. Like the supermarket shopper without a cart.
That is fine, so far as it goes. But what if you slip and fall. What happens to the groceries?
Whee! Whoops! Big. Mess. Call the Janitor! Cleanup on Aisle 3…
Probate Court Is The Janitor!
Probate Court is Johnny-on-the-Spot to clean up the mess you made when you slipped and fell. Probate gathers up your groceries and tries to figure out what to do with them. Janitors have a Rule Book about who gets what. It is called the “Estates and Protected Individuals Code.”
The Probate Judge is the Lord High Janitor, Exalted Over All Deputy Janitors. The Personal Representative (or Executor) does the real work. Junior Deputy Janitor.
The Junior Deputy Janitor has 3 jobs.
- 1. Marshall the assets. Gather up the leftovers.
- 2. Pay the bills.
- 3. Deliver the leftovers to the deserving beneficiaries.
But What About The Will?!?
Your Last Will and Testament is simply instructions to the Junior Deputy Janitor. It is a note, a piece of paper. Fluttering about betwixt and between the mess. Let us hope the Junior Deputy Janitor finds the Will. Let us hope Junior Deputy follows the Will. Let us hope.
Your Will ONLY works in probate. It is simply instructions to the Probate Court, through the Personal Representative, expressing your desires. Expressing your will as to who should be in charge. Who gets what. Deriving its powers from the Probate Court.
Your Will only “works” after you have died.
Your Will only “works” by going through Probate.
Your Will does not avoid Probate… it is a creature of Probate, part and parcel.
Wills Are Awful And No Good!
Probate Is Awful And No Good!
Kind of extreme, don’t you think? Wills and probate have their place. Some techniques of great benefit to many middle-class families only work in probate.
You know that a rush to judgment often leads over a cliff. Let us calm down. Sensitively and sensibly evaluate our options. And choose according to fact, not fiction. Planning success is a choice, not chance.
We Got Through 2020.
Time To Move Ahead In 2021.
Last year, the number of regular folks planning their futures dropped. Significantly. Could it be that you had other things on your mind?
At the same time, our Crisis Caseload skyrocketed. Special PACE rules mean more families than ever qualify for immediate help.
And fewer people focused on planning ahead, LifePlanning™. The Carrier Team has been busier than ever, but I fear 2020 was a year of wasted opportunity for regular families. I am extremely concerned. What do you think?
You can get the information you want. In-person workshops and one-on-one meetings. Recorded and live-streaming webinars. Like you, we have never stopped serving. As you seek out new ways to accomplish your life’s work, we are on the same journey. By your side. Making the rules work for the people who play by the rules.
Sixty minutes that to accelerate your success. An hour to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror. Avoid Nursing Home Poverty. Reject silly Spend Downs. Learn how to preserve your loved one’s lifesavings, business, cottage, life insurance. Thousands of middle-class families have learned and use these techniques. Why not yours?
Got Questions? Get Answers!