Q: My mom recently passed, and her Last Will left her house to my sister and me. She had no Last Will and neither I nor my sister could afford a lawyer to file probate. Consequently, my mother’s home was foreclosed on and auctioned off. The remaining assets in my mother’s estate were deposited with the State of Florida. We now learn that to receive these assets probate is still necessary. We still can’t afford a lawyer or court costs. It seems unfair. How can we get our inheritance?
A: The career accomplishments, earnings and savings of Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1955, substantially more than their parents, the Silent Generation (SGens), or those 75 years or older. The SGens were raised during war and economic depression. World War II strengthened the hard work and family values of this generation. These values became deep-seated in their children’s generation, who surpassed their parents’ achievements, inheritance and monetary accomplishments.
Generation X (XGens) followed the Boomers. Their values began to shift with the coming of the computer age. XGens (ages 37-52) became focused on college education and placed an even greater emphasis on a college education on their children, the Millenials (ages 18-36). Unlike the SGens and the even more financially successful Boomers, XGens and Millenials have suffered financially with exorbitant college debt during a time when unemployment levels reached 13% as compared to today’s 3.5%.
Why are these statistics so relevant? It comes down to your interest in transferring wealth at your death through effective estate planning and without impacting your heirs with the hefty financial burden of hiring lawyers to receive their inheritance entitlements. Boomers learned the hard way. Most of their parents, the SGens, were focused primarily on Last Wills, not knowing that at their parents’ deaths, probate would be required and managed by a lawyer to acquire their assets. It has cost the Boomers thousands of dollars to settle their parents’ estate. They continuously vow, “I will not allow this to happen to my children or heirs.”
Have they learned? No, not by a long shot! Eighty-one percent of SGens have or had at the least a Last Will or other estate planning. Commendably, Boomers, unlike their parents, prepare Living Trusts more often than Last Wills in an effort to avoid any occurrence of probate. Sadly, fewer than 42% of Boomers have any estate planning at all. That is a 39% drop in planning as compared to their parents.
So much for the Boomer’s vow to protect their heirs from exposure to probate lawyers and courts. Boomers are exposing 58% of XGens and Millenials to greater financial impact because so many from these later generations can barely afford to pay their own college debt and living costs.
Unfortunately, if parents don’t do any estate planning that transfers their assets to heirs immediately upon death, the only alternative is to hire a probate lawyer. Consult with an estate planning attorney today.