In this episode, Attorney Bo Schimers shares with us useful information and things we should know about an estate and probate court when a loved one passes.
NOTE: As you read the article, please listen to the podcast above. The podcast is packed full valuable information about estates and probate court, including valuable suggestions how to avoid common and costly things that happen when a loved one passes.
Attorney Bo Schimers has been practicing law in the metro Detroit area for 30 years. Bo is an icon and a staple in the downriver Detroit (south Detroit) area. His commitment to legal excellence, working hard for his clients and bubbly personality make Bo a well known public figure with an outstanding reputation among the community, his peers and local judges.
Bo shares with throughout the podcast information about estates, wills, power of attorney and where briefly touches up on where life insurance plays into the planning.
Estates refer to all the property, assets and money (capital) a person owns and accumulates throughout life. A decedent's estate refers to the estate at the time of a person's passing. Probate is the process of the legal transfer of assets, property and money after taxes and debts are paid.
Probate cases will take at least 6 months to adjudicate. Property, assets and funds from the estate will be held up in probate court proceedings for those 6 months. As Bo mentions in the podcast, it's very difficult to convince the court to release funds during that period, essentially freezing the assets and funds during that period.
Power of Attorney, or PoA, refer to the legal transfer of decision making for a person, particularly an elder person or mentally incapable person.
Wills are drafted during a person's life and are a legal document that describe how the person, while alive, wishes to distribute the assets, property and money.
Bo and Michael discuss a real life case study, one in which there was an attempt to hijack Michael's deceased uncle's estate when his uncle passed. The story of of a 3rd party walking into the Lee County, Florida probate court and filing a petition with a fraudulent will.
Bo eloquenty touches upon all these points and much more throughout the podcast.
When a loved one passes it's a traumatic experience. It's a time where we can and should cherish the memories of our loved ones. Out of respect of the deceased and because of the law, someone in the family or someone close to the deceased needs to assume the responsibility for making sure that the last wishes of the deceased are executed as per last wishes (i.e. a will). This person becomes the personal representative of the deceased.
Unfortunately, when someone passes it's also a time when people, distant relatives and distant friends show up with claims on the property. Bo recommends securing the property AS FAST AS POSSIBLE when someone passes.
"Because somebody is going to pay for something, someday. Be Reasonable, Be Responsible." ~Jeff Jones
0:45 (Bo) - "There are things you leave behind and things you don't leave behind"
2:30 (Mike) - "A case where an estate and the probate process was hijacked by a 3rd party"
3:30 (Bo) - "When a loved one passes, whether they are local or remote, you can check online at the local county courthouse for updates on the probate case."
4:30 (Bo) - "A deceased's estate and probate case requires a personal representative, or a glorified accountant"
5:30 (Bo) - "If no one is near the deceased (they are remote), a creditor can actually file the probate case."
6:00 (Bo) - "Wills are low cost, generally easy. Estates should be above $500,000 before the cost for an attorney will be more substantial."
6:30 (Bo) - "Understand the difference between a supervised and unsupervised probate case."
8:30 (Mike/Bo) - "Mike: We actually had a 3rd party walk into the courthouse, file a probate petition with a fraudulent will. Have you ever heard of such a thing Bo?" --- Bo: "ALL THE TIME"
8:55 (Bo) - "The minute somebody dies, you have to expect people to show up and pick the bones of the house" (Mike - "That's what happened to us."
10:00 (Bo) - "It takes about 6 months to satisfy the court's requirements for publishing notifications so creditors have time to file a claim."
11:00 (Bo) - "Anyone can walk into the courthouse and file the petition with the death certificate. The petitioner then has to notify the family. The petition is $175 in the state of Michigan."
12:15 (Mike) - "If the objective is to steal from the estate, as in our case, they dragged their feet notifying the family" ---> Bo: "Exactly"
13:15 (Bo) - "Nobody cares, including the court, about the will until it's time to distribute the property."
14:15 (Mike/Bo) - "The 3rd party would not have been able to walk away with any property or money. The 3rd party would have been smoked out by the time it came to distribute the property."
15:50 (Mike) - "Can the funds from the estate be used to sustain life, sustain the family during the probate process?"
16:45 (Bo) - "NO, unless you beg the probate court and they see a need for it, I don't think the probate court is going to do it."
17:30 (Bo) - "Horace Dodge and the Dodge family had their estate held up in probate for 35 years."
19:00 (Bo) - "When there is a significant amount of assets at stake in an estate, I recommend contacting an attorney right away."
19:30 (Bo) - "Probate courts are extremely form driven. It can be maddening even for an attorney."
20:30 (Bo) - "Power of Attorney can only be granted while alive ... Very inexpensive, $200-300 for a Power of Attorney ... Make sure you have a durable (medical) Power of Attorney, in Michigan they are called advanced medical directives."
22:30 (Mike/Bo) - "When amendments to wills are executed, a notary and two witnesses can process the amendment."
25:30 (Mike/Bo & Mike's Wife Ginger) - Final 15 seconds of wrapup, some B-Roll audio footage :) "Don't know why podcasting is an adrenaline rush."
Bo Schimers - Attorney Bo Schimers has over 30 years of experience as an attorney serving metro Detroit and downriver. Bo specializes in Probate, Criminal Defense (including DUI), Divorce & Family Law, and Drivers License Restoration. Bo can be reached at 734.282.0200.
Michael Lucy - Michael is a licensed life/annuity agent and broker in Michigan. Mike is contracted with 25+ carriers, and provides expert analysis to match every individual client to the right carrier. Mike specializes in whole life, term life and IUL's (indexed universal life). You can email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach him by phone or text at 734.288.8323.