PROBLEM: When a person dies without a Will, state law requires that an Administrator be appointed to handle the process of probating the estate, passing assets to the next of kin, paying off creditors, filing tax returns and so on. An Administrator’s job is similar to that of an Executor, except they don’t have nearly as much independence. Everything they do is supervised by the Probate Judge. Administration is much more expensive than probate with a will too, in fact, it’s thousands more!
All Administrators must post a bond with the Court in an amount equal to 110% of the deceased’s assets and 110% of his or her annual income. Some counties also require the value of their real estate to be included in this figure so the bond amount can get quite high. Bonds are expensive, hundreds of dollars per year or more. And many people cannot even get a bond because of their poor credit. If your own family can’t get a bond, who is left to manage your estate for you? The County might do it, but they are not required to do so. Your loved ones might not have any options.
SOLUTION: Executors can be relieved of the requirement for bonding, but it must be done IN A WILL!
Would it make sense to simply avoid the need for a bond by having a Will prepared? Of course it would. This avoids the expense of the bond and, more importantly, avoids the added expense of administration. It will save your family thousands of dollars.
PROBLEM: Administrators of estates must be Alabama residents. We see families where the parents still live in Alabama, but the children have moved away. Those adult children cannot serve as Administrator of their own parent’s estate, and sadly, they are often at the mercy of a County Administrator who does not know the family at all.
SOLUTION: With a Will, you get to name your Executor and they can live anywhere!
Would it make sense to avoid the County becoming involved in your family’s affairs by naming one of your children as your Executor? Of course it would. The County Administrator isn’t interested in saving the estate any money or passing heirlooms to family members. Their goal is to maximize profit for the County Administrator. Why run that risk?
PROBLEM: Some people assume that, just because they think they don’t have much to leave, they don’t need a Will. If these folks die under circumstances where the family wants to file suit – say they died from lack of care in a nursing home – someone has to have the legal authority to bring that wrongful death lawsuit. An Administrator can be appointed as the legal representative, but we see many families where the next of kin can’t get bonded because of lack of credit, or because they live out of state. As a result, that means no one can bring the wrongful death action!
SOLUTION: If you have a Will that appoints an Executor, even if you don’t have much to leave, this person can pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf and avoid the bonding and residency requirements.
You have a choice. You can leave your family with problems when you die or you can leave them with solutions.
I know what you are thinking – There he goes again, another lawyer talking about Wills being a necessity, and he just so happens to provide them to clients, for a nice hefty fee!
That is true, except for the part about the hefty fee. As an estate-planning and elder law office, we do prepare Wills and other legal documents for people. We charge a fee for the advice and expertise we provide to our clients. One of the benefits of expertise is having seen the many downsides of people NOT having the right plans in place. Most attorneys will make a much larger fee helping a family when a loved one doesn’t have a Will than they make in preparing a Will, so believe me – money isn’t the reason we recommend this.
One last point to remember! With married couples, assets will often pass to the surviving spouse without any need for probate. Don’t let this fool you though. When the surviving spouse dies, those same assets will not automatically pass to the children without probate. You have a choice – you can make the process a difficult, expensive, and time-consuming process for your family, or you can have something in place they can rely on.
Call us for a free consultation on how to protect your family!
William G. Nolan
Elder Law Attorney
Nolan Elder Law & Estate Planning, LLC
200 Office Park Drive Suite 303
Mountain Brook, AL 35223