A guest post by Attorney Michael Metherd
Recently I received a call from a lady about a family member’s estate. Her husband had been given power of attorney in his uncle’s estate. His uncle had recently passed away and she wanted to make sure that her husband was the personal representative in the Will, and she wanted to do whatever she could to avoid probate. This is where the problems only began to start popping up.
Her husband’s uncle did not leave behind any plan for the disposition of his estate. The uncle left instructions as to where the Will was located but that location no longer existed. Furthermore, his will was a holographic will, meaning handwritten. It only contained a brief statement regarding what he wanted to do with his estate. Meanwhile, caller told me that the uncle left behind an adult daughter who was incapable of paying bills and managing her own affairs. To make matters worse, the bank froze the account pending the probate court proceedings.
If it can go wrong, will. This poor family is facing what happens when a family member fails to have a plan in place. While the jury is out on whether there is a Will or not, a Will alone is not sufficient to keep you from probate proceedings. Had this gentleman planned adequately, he would have realized that a trust will keep his assets from going through the probate court. At a bare minimum a Will could appoint a personal representative to manage disposition of the property.
As it stands with this family, they will go through probate. Assuming the court does not a valid Will exists, any assets will pass along according to the Minnesota intestacy statutes. Regardless, the probate proceeding will be long and drawn out and any money in any bank account is not likely to come anytime soon.
Proper planning could have avoided this entire scenario. The uncle could have put a trust in place avoiding the time and expense of probate. At a minimum, a Will could direct the court as to the testator’s wishes including the appointment of a personal representative. Call our office at 612-827-3833 to schedule an appointment with our office to talk to an estate planning attorney and discuss what type of plan will best suit your needs, so your loved ones are not faced with a similar scenario.