If the bloody water, locusts, pesky frogs, and blackout darkness had failed to convince Pharaoh that it was time to release the Israelite slaves, we are pretty sure the 11th plague, probate, would have had Pharaoh hosting a go-away party with swag bags full of matzo.
Probate is the process of administering an estate, and validating a will. Sounds harmless? Well, it has many features in which you may recall from Exodus 12:
- Water into blood – probate can take a perfectly simple distribution of assets, and transform it into a substance that renders the estate worthless; as months of attorney and court fees drain the estate of its resources.
- Frogs – you thought frogs were pesky little creatures? They’ve got nothing on the claims of contesting beneficiaries and third parties. The process of probate provides a broad opportunity for creditors and other third parties to claim an interest in the decedent’s property. This prolongs the process, and increases the costs of administration.
- Lice – You can’t quite see them, but each itch is a constant reminder that they are there, and you’ve got to scratch. This is much like probate procedures. From one moment to the next, you are having to deal with a different notice (scratch), filing (scratch), hearing (scratch), etc. (scratch, scratch, itch, itch).
- Flies – A day of swarming flies is much like a year of probate; at the end of it, you are so bitten up and exhausted with swatting, that even when it stops, you have a long recovery period to look forward to.
- Dying Livestock – you’ve got valuable livestock keeling over left and right, just like you would have estate assets dropping in value during the probate period. Through this administrative process, that cash cow might not be managed correctly. If you had, however, put it in a trust, with a trustee managing it, you would cashing in – not dropping out.
- Boils – we know a couple of things about boils: (1) painful, & (2) ugly. Yes, that pretty much sums up probate.
- Storms of Fire – Hail and fire destroys everything in its path. A couple years of dealing with the stress of determining the appropriate distribution between family members has the same effect, often leaving family dynamics in a heavily damaged state of affairs.
- Locusts – Pharaoh tried to negotiate when it came to the 8th plague, saying that all of the men could leave, but not the women and children. We know that did not work out so well for foolish-Pharaoh. This big-fat-fail is a common feature of negotiations regarding property distributions during probate administration.
- Darkness – probate effectively prolongs the time that families have deal with the darkness associated with the loss of a loved one, as it can last for years, and serve as a daily stressor to grieving family members.
- Death of First-Born – before this final plague, God instructed Moses to mark lamb’s blood over the doorposts as a protection from the “smite” of the plague. A trust based estate plan is much like this protecting method that spared the people from the “destroyer.” Such a plan incorporates a pour-over will and trust into your estate plan. A will coupled with a trust effectively bypasses probate. The pour-over will takes all of the property that passes through the will, and funnels it into the trust. The property is then distributed to the trust beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of the trust. This effectively removes all of the property from the Last Will & Testament, thereby leaving nothing to be administered through probate.
In the spirit of passover, don’t be a foolish-Pharoah; plan ahead, and avoid probate! For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation.
It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?SM