Tales of a probate sale and a trust sale

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I have a client whose father up and died without a will and no trust in place.  Just to be clear he was in his late 70s. 

1)      Did he do this on purpose (not putting himself in a trust) to see how the heirs fended for themselves?  Was he thinking it would “bring the family together”?

2)      Or was his intelligence such that he was considered a few steers short of a full herd (I’m married to a Texan so I get these expressions all the time) or was he not playing with a full deck (also married to a poker player)?

3)      Or did he fail to predict what he needed to do and do it in a timely fashion namely BEFORE his death (or in some other people’s cases prior to losing the faculty to make the decision)?  

I think it was the later.  And believe me his passing with no trust (nor will) did not bring about family togetherness.  In our case the adult “children” were torn with “I was promised this”, “I was allowed to rent the family home for nothing for years, so I should be able to continue to pay nothing now”.  The list of frankly illogical statements could fill a couple of pages. 

In this case it took almost 2 years to get family members to move out of their “free rent” family home. On top of that the housing market plunged.  The attorney with the patience of a saint was definitely due the fee from the estate.

Oh yes…I’d like to comment here.  Parents – you are NOT doing their children and heirs any favors by offering free rent.  Those same children are not caring for the home, and probably because they are embarrassed to be living rent free do not call when the leaks start to happen in the bathrooms and the roof starts acting like a sieve instead of a barrier from the elements.  Yes, that is what happened in our case!

The family members were finally “persuaded” to move out.  The homes were up for sale after considerable repairs were made just to be presentable and the estate had lost valuable time and much money (in our case well over $300K).

Then the offers arrived and the probate attorney needed to advise the family of the sale – giving them sufficient notice to complain if they had an objections.

Not a pretty scene for anyone. 

NOW let’s turn to the family whose father passed away with a trust.  They called to say we want to sell my father’s home and I am the new trustee.  We quickly prepped the home for sale and in a little less than 60 days later the children were packing up with cash in hand ready to start their new life.

You can make the choice as to your family’s future.  I hope you choose wisely.

Let me know if you have a senior topic you would like me to comment on.

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