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What Do You Do with 140 Heirs?

estate planning legal education wills & trusts Nov 19, 2019

True story: A man dies. He has a will. In his will, he names two beneficiaries. Two people are going to get his stuff. Pretty simple, right?


Because when all you have in place is a simple will, that means a probate case. And that means court requirements. For example, you must give notice of the case and the will to all of your heirs.

For most people, that's pretty straightforward. Your kids are your heirs. And if they've died before you, then their kids (your grandkids) are your heirs. But what if you, like the man in our story, have no kids.

Then your parents are your heirs. But what if you, like the man in our story, are elderly and your parents died long ago?

Then your siblings are your heirs. But what if you, like the man in our story, have 11 siblings, but you're the last one living?

Then we look to your siblings' kids, and their kids, and their kids, etc. With11 siblings and a family history and dynamic like that, you can see where this is going.

The man in our story has 140 legal heirs. (We think. It's hard to be sure.) That's right. 140. That's a lot of people.

The personal representative (or executor) is one of those 140. He knows pretty confidently who and where about 55 of the 140 are.

Think about it. Do you know all of your cousins? Do you have their contact information (addresses, phone numbers, email addresses) handy? Would you if you had 139 of them? 

I met the person who told me this story last week. His father is the personal representative. He's "helping out." 

The probate case started about two weeks ago. Both he and his father are already exhausted and frustrated. They are shocked because their legal fees are already in the thousands. It's only been two weeks!

But it costs an awful lot of time and money to (1) identify, (2) find, and then (3) send notice (documents and paperwork via mail, often with proof of delivery) to 140 people (who are, of course, all over the world). At anywhere between $250 and $600 per hour depending on where you live and whom you choose as your lawyer, it doesn't take long to incur a bill of many thousands.

This case is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars. That money is going to come from the dead man's estate. 

If there's anything left, it will go to the two people he named in his will.

Such a waste. Of time. Of money. Of effort. Of sanity.

And this is just one issue in one case. I deal with issue after issue after problem after dispute after conflict after error after more issues all the time. All. The. Time.

Because people don't know the truth: You can avoid probate completely. That's right. No court. And therefore, no court requirements. And therefore, no court fees. And no lawyer fees. And no delays. And no frozen accounts. And no legal battles. And no notice to 140 unknown cousins. The list goes on and on.

If you can avoid probate, why don't you?

There are only two reasons. Either you don't know. Or you don't care.

The first makes sense. Most people don't know. And no one is teaching about this stuff. Why would they? Lawyers as a group benefit substantially from probate cases. Especially cases with problems.

We've only just scratched the surface. But now you know: You can avoid probate completely. Do you care? Your kids will. Or the two guys you want to leave your stuff to.

It must be expensive.


It must take a lot of time.


It must be a huge hassle.


Want to learn a little more? The best way is to meet with me for a Legacy Design Session. We'll talk about YOUR unique situation, identify likely issues and problems, and put a plan in place that will actually work when you need it. Your kids will thank you. (Or your two friends.)

Click HERE to learn more about and schedule a Legacy Design Session.

Not ready for that? Then spend an hour with me on a live webinar. Click here to see the schedule and register. It's free. It's fun. And you'll learn a ton. In fact, you'll know more about estate planning than most lawyers know and you'll also know what to do next to protect your kids, your family, and your stuff when you become incapacitated or die.

And you're going to. We all do. Have a plan.

Learn. Save Time. Save Money. Avoid Ruin.


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