You know how it is. Everybody has something to say. And each one says something different. It is a whole choir singing flat: Financial Advisor. Accountant. Next-door neighbor. Friend from church’s lawyer. That get-out-of-debt guy on the radio. That financial guru woman on public television. Confusing? Yes. Here’s the straight story…
Probate Works Like This. It’s Simple.
1. You run into Meijer (or Spartan Stores or D&W) for a loaf of bread. Before you know it, your arms are full of items you cannot live without. And you are in control of that stuff.
2. But then: You slip and fall! Whoops… the stuff goes flying and makes a big mess. You had total control. Then you had none.
3. Clean Up On Aisle 3!
4. The janitor comes out to clean up your mess. The janitor takes your stuff and decides what to do with it. Where it goes. How it gets there. According to Janitor Rules.
Translation: Here is How Probate Works!
1. You earned and saved. Now you have stuff. Not groceries, but your home, insurance, investments, furniture, automobile, stocks, bonds. You have control. You earned it. It is all in your name.
2. But then: You died. You became disabled. You lost control.
3. Now nobody controls your stuff anymore. Not you. Not anyone else. But somebody has got to figure out what to do with your leftovers… And that’s the job of Probate Court… figuring out what to do with the leftovers.
4. Now a big chunk of your lifesavings goes to probate attorneys and a bit more to probate court.
5. Your beneficiaries get the rest. You hope.
But My Will Avoids Probate! Doesn’t It?
Wills do not avoid probate at all. Your will is nothing but a nice letter to the janitor, asking nicely that the janitor will do as you ask:
Last Will & Testament
When I have slipped and fallen and you find my stuff, please let my spouse/child/someone special help you.
Please pay any bills that you get. Please advertise to see if anyone else wants to claim any of my money. Do not forget to pay yourself and anyone who helps you!
Please do not use your usual rules, but give my stuff to the following folks: 1,2,3…
Person Who Did Only a Will.
Remember: The Will does not do anything except tell the Probate Court where you want the leftover stuff to go. If anyone finds it. Then reads it. Then follows it. And if no one else complains.
- A WILL DEMANDS PROBATE!
- A WILL ONLY WORKS IN PROBATE.
- If sole ownership and death, then Mess.
- If Mess, then Probate.
- If Probate, then Will.
- If no Mess, no Probate.
- If no Probate, Nothing for Will to do.