Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Others Protected By Probate

Sue’s father, Luke, passed away last week six years after his wife, and Sue is his only child.  At the bank, Sue has learned that she cannot get access to Luke’s money to take care of his estate without going to court. 

She finds this aggravating, and she has found his Will that leaves everything to her as expected.  So she asks again, why should I have to go through a court process when no one else has anything to gain or lose? 

Well, certain other people may have something to gain or lose, and probate is set up in part to protect them.  Those people are Luke’s creditors.  Luke actually owed $20,000 in back taxes and $30,000 in medical bills at the time of his death.

Those creditors are entitled to be paid before Sue gets any money from his estate over and above the funeral bill and expenses of probate.  If Sue could get the money without court, how would those creditors get paid if she had already spent Luke’s money before the creditors tried to collect?

Probate court is designed in part to prevent chaos and a race to the bank after someone’s death.  Getting to the money first with a good story should not be all it takes to get someone’s assets after his death. 

Court authority is designed to make it so everyone gets paid his or her fair share.  For advice on avoiding or simplifying probate for your family in the event of your death, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an estate planning appointment.  © 2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

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