June 5

DIY Estate Planning for the Rich and Famous

Aretha Franklin, who passed away 5 years ago, is arguably one of the greatest female voices of all time. In addition to being known as the “Queen of Soul”, she has sold over 75 million records over her career.

What most people don’t know is that she was also very controlling of her wealth. She didn’t trust anybody to handle her money or personal affairs. Rumor has it she demanded payment upfront for her performances in cash and stashed it inside the piano while she was performing.

You’d think that someone this controlling would have had her estate prepared before she died.

It turns out she did, sort of. She had four handwritten wills which ended up costing her estate millions, exposed dirty family secrets, and caused family members to turn on each other. Even someone as successful and wealthy as Aretha will end up in probate if they don’t plan properly.

I always tell my students that when it comes to probate you need to look at the behavior of the people you are working with to know what to expect. For example, if they choose to file a probate on their own without an attorney, what could that potentially tell us about their personality?

As real estate investors and agents who specialize in probate, we must pay attention to why properties end up in probate when they were not supposed to. The deceased tried to prepare the estate, but something happened along the way that derailed their plans.

I am currently working on a property that is in a trust but the elderly mother had the brilliant idea to take the cheap route and use an online software to prepare the trust. She saved some cash by not having to hire a lawyer, but the problems she created by trying to do it herself have caused a complicated mess.

There are multiple adult children involved in the potential inheritance and every single one of them has their hand out. And then there are the nieces, nephews, and grandkids complicating everything because they want their “fair share” too.

I’m happy to report that after working with this family for almost a year, we have finally worked through the dirty mess and the property is now ready to be sold.

It’s been a long road getting to this point, but like I always say, the bigger the problem, the bigger the payday. I love probate!

To your success,
Ernie “Probate Problems” Vargas | The Probate Fox


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