Family Law’s Perspective on Estate Planning


My oldest sibling, my sister, passed away two years ago. She did not leave a large estate, but even more tragic, she did not prepare a living trust. Heck, she didn’t even prepare a will, though I could have whipped one together for her in just a short amount of time. Thus, I was the only remaining heir, all of our siblings and parents having already passed away.


However, I learned that she had wanted her estate to be equally distributed among my children and our other brother’s son. So I undertook to have her estate probated, the assets sold, the debts paid, and the court to approve the distribution of the remaining cash/assets to the kids (who are all adults save for one minor child).


I have spent the last 15 months bouncing in and out of court trying to get all of the paperwork “right”. Unfortunately, probate law is much like all other areas of jurisprudence; if you don’t know it well, you are in the middle of a lethal and unforgiving jungle. Despite my best efforts, I was kindly advised by the latest judge hearing my sister’s estate case (it has gone before 4 different judicial officers in the last 15 months), that it is a very complicated area of law and I should probably hire counsel to assist me. This will likely end up costing my children and nephew many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars! All of this time and expense would have been avoided entirely had my sister just taken a moment or two to have me or some other qualified attorney prepare a living trust for her.


The lesson for all of The Reape-Rickett Law Firm’s past, present, and future clients: Prepare a living trust so your heirs (your children, other family members, and dear friends) can quickly and inexpensively receive the bounty of your estate, rather than waiting interminable months and paying large amounts of good money to obtain your legacy to them!

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