Estate Pain

The Mark of One Person

More than we realize, we each leave a mark on the world, no matter who we are or how long we live. When someone is gone, we who have been left behind must deal with changes. Part of that process is settling that person’s estate: deciding what to do with their material possessions and outstanding obligations. Basically, there are two ways to deal with this issue: trust administration and probate.

No two probate situations are identical. Does anything in the following lists sound familiar to you? Are you afraid that you will be facing something on these lists in the near future? These lists are by no means complete, but you get the idea.

Here, we are just looking at the problems you might be up against. This website is for you: feel free to browse here to get a sense for answers and how I can help you.

Bookwork and Paperwork

  • Mountains of disorganized documents: receipts, letters, lists of phone numbers and addresses, certificates, legal documents, and on and on.
  • An e-n-d-l-e-s-s list of businesses and government agencies to fight with.
  • Giving the paperwork everything you had, and it was still rejected – again.
  • Every time you deal with yet another professional, needing to start from scratch – providing that individual a new set of copies and a new explanation of what’s going on.
  • Belongings are out there – somewhere – but finding them without a paper trail or hints to go on is frustrating.

The Clock Is Ticking for Valuables

  • A business needs to be sold quickly before it loses its value.
  • A house filled to the brim with the results of 47 years of buying things, creating things, collecting things, making and receiving gifts, and living life.
  • An ocean of memories, photos, and personal effects will be lost forever to future generations unless they are preserved.
  • Special collections – guns, dolls, books, jewelry, artwork, coins, baseball cards, train sets, and so on – might be unusually valuable, and there is fear that they will be just given away for much less than they are worth.
  • Beyond “money value,” some of the belongings have sentimental or even sacred value, but you can’t keep them. How will you ever find a new home for them that feels right?
  • You’re afraid to entrust priceless possessions to a moving company.

Limitations of Time, Money, and Location

  • When the probate process is settled, there will be money available. Ironically, in order to settle the probate process to access that money, you need to pay for help – and right now you’re out of money.
  • Living thousands of miles away from the place where the probate work needs to happen.
  • You’ve already got a full-time job, plus volunteer work you value, plus getting visitation with your kids on weekends, plus regular visits to the doctor. Since we don’t have 36-hour days, finding extra time for this probate adventure is going to take a miracle.

Concerns about People

  • Among family members, strong differences of opinion erupt about how things should be handled, to the point of straining or destroying relationships.
  • Someone with physical or mental limitations has lost a place to live, and no one knows where this person will be able to live next.
  • Someone has lost an income source and needs to find a way to pay for living expenses going forward.
  • Let’s not forget that someone has died: in the middle of all of this, a living person is dealing with a loss. This living person might be you. Sometimes, unprocessed grief can impede our ability to function or even threaten our health.

What You’re Doing is Valuable

These headaches may go on for months or even years. They can consume a person’s life. Of course, you want to do the right thing for the estate. You also want to do justice to other parts of your life.

You might not always feel it, but society values what you are doing – and even considers your time and service to have monetary value. According to the Texas Estates code, personal representatives of estates might be paid a commision out of the proceeds of the estate up to 5% of the value of the estate if they adequately perform their responsibilities. For an executor who is also a beneficiary, this compensation is in addition to inheritance. In other words, you are entitled to use funds within the estate to hire the help you need, and you yourself might be compensated for your time and trouble. Please speak to your attorney to understand the specifics of your case.

This means that you have options. If you have a do-it-yourself personality and have lots of time on your hands, you are welcome to take on whatever you want to do yourself. Not hiring help might mean that the proceeds of the estate to beneficiaries or heirs will be larger. On the other hand, by working with professionals you might spare yourself from missed opportunities and expensive mistakes, even lawsuits. You will also save yourself time and energy. The bottom line: your needs are important.