Tuesday, March 08, 2005

An Ounce of Planning is Worth a Pound of Probate

Every day I see unfortunate circumstances that have developed because somebody was cutting corners. Many people don't understand the legal process and therefore think that they don't need it. But sooner or later it catches up to them, or their estate, in triplicate.

Here are some areas where I see these sorts of problems most frequently:

1. Person dies owning land, and the family continues on without probating the estate.

2. Person doesn't make a will.

3. Person doesn't make a Durable Power of Attorney.

4. Person makes a homemade will or uses a standardized will form.

5. Person adds another person to a deed for property, without an attorney.

Not every time one of these circumstances occur, is there necessarily catastrophic results. But most of the time I see these circumstances, the problems that result cost many thousands of dollars to repair. All to save a couple of hundred dollars to do it right in the first place. And the cost in dollars is only part of the result in cutting legal corners. The time and aggravation costs to the family are much greater when everything has to be repaired, rather than prepared.

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