Let’s keep this simple: A hypothetical Mr. Smith is a retired and older widower. Mr. Smith’s estate will be divided up when he dies. The total value of his assets plus debts is around $1.8 million. His lawyer helped him to write his Last Will and Testament in which money and property will pass to a younger sister and to his two adult sons in equal parts. In his Will he appointed his older son as executor, having no idea of the headaches and agony he is leaving his son to face.
The law demands that his written Will be probated. His lawyer, who never mentioned a Revocable Living Trust, told him not to be concerned about probate, and that it is a routine process. The friendly lawyer said that he would help the son in keeping the cost reasonable. Mr. Smith likes his lawyer and trusts him implicitly.
After Mr. Smith contacted one of this group’s affiliated attorneys who understands and handles Revocable Living Trusts, he felt obliged to make the choice between keeping his Last Will and Testament versus replacing it with a Revocable Living Trust (that by-passes probate). The cost of probate, based on actual statistics (not promises), might have been as little as 5%, but more likely around 7% or 8% of the estate. Probate would have reduced the legacy to his sister and his two children by at least $90,000, but more likely around $135,000. According to AARP’s study, the cost of probating his Will would have been around $180,000.
Mr. Smith’s cost for obtaining, properly funding, and legally executing his Revocable Living Trust came to $2650 plus $180 for transfering the deed to his house into the trust. Perhaps Mr. Smith’s probate lawyer did not know about RLT’s. If he did know, the probate work seemed more reasonable to him. Although Mr. Smith likes his former lawyer, the savings to his heirs of $85,000 to $175,000 was viewed by him to be a better deal. When the decision to change from a written Will to an RLT was discussed with his sister and his sons, they agreed wholeheartedly without even hearing of the other compelling reasons for having a Revocable Living Trust.
MORAL: Hypothetical people can make good decisions.
Our hypothetical “Mr. Smith”, above, had a death estate of $1,800,000. A 10% total probate cost would have been $180,000 (which, according to AARP’s study is not unrealistic). Let’s look at a more modest death estate: $200,000 for examle. A 7% or 8% probate cost would be $14,000 or $16,000. The RLT option might run $2,500 to $3,000. Then factor in the agony of the probate process, the time delay, public versus private, and other comparisons that an estate-planning attorney might bring up. Clearly, this is a subject to be discussed with an attorney who takes pride in his/her trust documents and who eschews probate whenever, in their client’s interest, it is appropriate to do so.
We live in the United States of America and we have a First Amendment right of free speech, even should accurate information intrude upon a hugely lucrative professional monopoly.
After reading “The Living Trust” by Henry Abts I discovered that I had wasted $2200, as previously mentioned. I phoned Henry and referred him to my own book that exposed misinformation given to the public by agents trained to sell “Whole Life Insurance” to families. America’s life insurance companies became incredibly wealthy as a result of training trusting agents in a dangerously misleading sales presentation that underinsured responsible breadwinners who wanted to protect their families financially should they die prematurely. When I told Henry that there had to be hundreds of retirees in just the Sarasota area who had probably not been given accurate information regarding probate, he told me about his extraordinary organization. He introduced me to affiliated licensed Florida attorneys who downloaded, from his office, high quality estate-planning documents for their own clients.
Henry Abts died in 2010. His legacy continues as a strictly legal documents company that works at the direction of affiliated attorneys who are an honor to their profession. For more than thirty years hundreds of affiliated network attorneys have “fine-tuned” living trust documents that are used with clients throughout America by affiliated estate-planning attorneys. They strive to effectively protect our fellow Americans, their clients, from the evils of probate. Comprehensive and up-to-date estate-planning documents are obtained by affiliated attorneys, enabling them to offer their clients all-inclusive estate-planning services from concept through final settlement.