I often have clients that come to me to help them probate the estate of their loved one, and they tell me that everyone is in agreement with what needs to happen in the estate or that there are no creditors. I cringe every time because, in my mind, that will jinx the case. The following is my wish list of what I wish clients would do to prevent what can go wrong:
1) No creditors turns into major creditors. It is important to identify who the creditors are because they have a right to file a claim against the estate and, if they are known creditors –you can limit the time period they have to file a claim to 30 days instead of 3 months. So, make sure to forward mail after the loved one dies (or check regularly) to see what bills come in after death. Also, look at the decedent’s checkbook (at least one year back) or look at bank statements to identify any regular payments made. You may also want to run a credit check on the decedent to identify any open accounts.
2) “My family and I are all in agreement” Really? It might be a good idea to bring everyone in and discuss the situation so everyone is on the same page. If that is not possible, you need to provide the attorney with contact information ASAP so that he/she can notify the beneficiaries in a timely fashion of their rights, etc.
3) “Mom wanted to save money so she wrote up her Will herself”. This is one of my personal favorites. Inevitably, the Will is executed incorrectly or written incorrectly which ends up costing the family more money than if mom would have used an attorney in the first place. I’m not just saying this so that attorneys can charge more fees. I’m serious. You wouldn’t go on the internet to self-diagnose yourself would you (well, maybe you would, but you’d go see a doctor if you thought you had a problem, right?)? Go to an attorney and get things done correctly!
For more information about Florida Probate, please contact the Estate Planning Offices of Law Ohall today.