Having heard, on multiple occasions, from local attorneys that probate is not a big deal, and knowing from experience that, indeed, probate is a big, fat, hairy, expensive, time intensive, insensitive, and emotionally challenging deal, I have asked these attorneys to share with me, from their perspective, just one compelling reason to not use a revocable trust. Here are the two most common responses I have received:
- “Probate’s not a big deal in our state. We can waive the inventory, so it’s really not that big of a deal from a publicity standpoint.”
- “Well, it’s administratively burdensome because you have to go through the hassle of funding the revocable trust.”
In my first two posts, I dealt with the “it’s not a big deal in our state” response. As far as the second most common response, I simply retort with “you’re either going to deal with it now while the client is alive, or leave the responsibility to his/her spouse or children after he’s gone.” It’s simply a “pay me now or pay me later” issue. So, why not go ahead and deal with it and create an environment that eases the estate administration process for your heirs, and, in particular, creates an environment in which the family owned business can continue on uninterrupted by the sterile and insensitive culture of the probate court. Perhaps there are some other reasons to not use a revocable trust, but I have not heard any good ones.
Frankly, in my opinion, some attorneys (I have no problem with attorneys. I have to work with them on a daily basis and I appreciate what they do) have a conflict of interest in not recommending the use of a revocable trust – after all they are the ones who will be helping your loved ones settle your estate, and they don’t typically do it on a pro bono basis.