Help! We are Trapped in the Hellscape of Probate!

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November 3, 2022 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
People often find themselves unexpectedly faced with the pitfalls and constant challenges of probate/estate administration every single day! These struggles that occur during an already difficult time are often greatly compounded by loved ones who failed to properly plan their estate before passing!

Picture this: Imagine checking your email first thing in the morning as an elder law attorney, and seeing requests for consults with things like: "Help! "We are trapped in the Hellscape of Probate!!!" Sounds like a dramatic horror movie title doesn't it? But in reality, people find themselves unprepared and unexpectedly faced with the pitfalls and constant challenges of probate/estate administration every single day! These struggles that occur during an already difficult time are often greatly compounded by loved ones who failed to properly plan their estate before passing!

Hardly a day goes by that a lawyer referral service does not send me emails like the following ones shown below:

  • (1) Full Referral Description: Estate, no will. My sister is taking over everything and will not give me any information. She will not let me have anything of my mother's. 
  • (2) Full Referral Description: My grandmother was forced to sign paperwork though she was found incapacitated. I am her durable power of attorney. She had fallen in the nursing home and was injured. They did not contact me. 
  • (3) Full Referral Description: My dad just passed away and his executor is his sister that is no longer in good health so I am wondering if I can take over. 
  • (4) Full Referral Description: I need assistance with probate. My husband passed away three months. We were separated but not divorced and were still living together. He left sister as executor. He left money in trust and land for his daughter, but she is not paying anything. 

I often wonder how many families throughout Virginia are torn apart during the estate administration process because a family member did not think ahead and plan their estate! How many relationships are irreparably torn apart because of it? As you can tell from the situations described above, not only is it a lack of planning, it is also the lack of an Executor or Trustee that is ready, informed and capable to do the job. 

I have seen this growing over the years as folks name children, siblings, friends to be their Agent, Executor or Trustee. As life has becomes increasingly more complex, the days of having a layperson serve as your fiduciary may be ending. It is becoming more and more crucial to seek out an experienced and certified attorney!

The other complicating factor is the decline of the “local” bank Trust Department. In most cases the bank’s trust department may be a “regional” one, where your Trustee might come into your area only once a quarter! In southside Virginia, we have one local trust department, and they do a terrific job! But not everyone banks at their bank, and they might have minimum assets requirements.

To fill the gap, I have studied in this area of finance and law and earned the Master Certified Independent Trustee (MCIT) designation from the Independent Trustee Alliance (ITA). The ITA saw this trend and was created to be a resource for families seeking an independent trustee. I also earned the designation Accredited Trust Financial Advisor (ATFA) from Campbell University’s Trust Advisors Forum.

Now, let me clear, I am not a money manager or investment specialist! But as part of my ongoing educations and certifications, I am trained to work together with your investment professional to ensure your investment principles are carried out and act as a second set of eyes over the investments.  

Before finding yourself or your loved ones "trapped in the Hellscape of Probate" and dealing with estate administration/probate issues, reach out to us! We are here to help. If you think an Independent Fiduciary could help in your situation, Book a call with us to see how we can help! We have offices in Bassett, Danville and Lynchburg to serve you.

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742 Main Street,
Danville, Virginia 24541

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3371 Fairystone Park Hwy,
Bassett, Virginia 24055

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Lynchburg, Virginia 24503

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