A charming lady attended one of my seminars with her adult son. When the seminar ended, they stayed behind, introduced themselves, and we had a wonderful conversation. She was an interesting and intelligent woman who had led a fascinating life and done very well for herself financially. Although she was probably in her late seventies, she appeared to be in robust good health. She lived in Charlotte in an area that I was familiar with because I lived nearby when I was a child. We even knew some of the same people. I felt like she and her son were old friends and I truly enjoyed getting to know them at the seminar.
Several months went by and I didn’t hear anything from them. Then about six months after the first seminar, she and her son showed up at another seminar I gave. It was wonderful seeing them again! As before, they stayed behind when the other guests left and we had another fantastic conversation! She said now she was ready to get started on updating her estate plan and she would like me to assist her. Her will was several years old. I gave her our client questionnaire to complete and she told me she planned to return the forms quickly. I didn’t hear anything for a while and then, about six weeks later, I got a call from her son.
He told me his mother went into the hospital for what they thought was a fairly routine illness but she abruptly took a turn for the worse and died. Her family was devastated and asked if I would help with the probate of her estate. I felt like I had lost a family member too! The fact that her death occurred so close to Christmas made it even more difficult. My heart went out to her son. When we sat down and went over her existing will and assets, it became clear that one item had been overlooked in her prior planning. Had we been able to update her estate plan, we could have addressed this issue and avoided probate. Now her family was faced with probate and a year of paperwork all because she ran out of time to make a simple and inexpensive tweak to her estate plan. It was a shame this happened to such nice people!
Although probate fees can be lucrative for attorneys, having been through probate myself, I would much rather help people get everything in order beforehand and avoid probate for their family. I know how emotionally draining and time-consuming probate can be for families. It is hard enough to lose a family member without having the extra burden of a probate that could have been avoided.
So while creating or updating an estate plan may not be the most exciting way to spend your time, it is critical that you do it. Estate planning delays can be devastating for your loved ones. None of us, regardless of age, knows what the future will bring. As someone who has been there, I urge you to contact an estate planning attorney if you haven’t already done so and get everything in place for your family – today! If you'd like me to help, call me at 704-887-5242 or email me using the form at the bottom of this page.