If you are one of the 40 million people that have downloaded and binge-listened to the S-Town podcast (from the creators of Serial and This American Life) then dying without an estate plan has been on your mind.
WARNING: S-TOWN SPOILERS AHEAD! (If you haven't listened to the buzz-worthy podcast yet and don't want any spoilers then stop reading now and come back later! Please also note that S-Town contains explicit language)
Among the many heartbreaking aspects of S-Town is the fallout of what happens when someone dies without making their wishes legally known. The podcast twists and turns leaving a tangled mess in the wake of the unexpected death of John B McLemore. A mother left behind with dementia and no legal guardianship in place, rumored hidden gold, 13 beloved dogs, acres of property with a complex hedge maze, a specialized shop full of tools and a myriad of other items are all left in the lurch. All the resulting confusion, chaos, legal issues and pending felony charges between family and friends of the deceased could have been avoided with a simple estate plan.
Knowing how easy (and affordable) it is to create a proper estate plan with our company Easy Legal Planning made listening to S-Town painful. The fighting, lies and subsequent finger-pointing that unfortunately often happen are completely avoidable when you take the time to legally make your wishes known. And knowing that John B's wishes were not carried-out made my heartache. A simple text with your wishes is meaningless in probate court. If only John B had actually followed-through with some estate planning the story would certainly have had a less frustrating - although no less heartbreaking - ending.
In the podcast it sounded like John B was close to finalizing some estate planning but never followed-through with creating his will. This would have been a helpful document that would have taken effect after his death. But there is another document that takes effect in an individuals lifetime that would have been very helpful and would have avoided the probate process entirely. A Revocable Living Trust is just what the name implies, a document that is created during an individual or a couple’s life, but that can be changed or terminated at any time. A Trust allows you to decide who will receive your assets, how much they will receive, and when they receive it. A Trust allows you to choose your successor trustees, who your beneficiaries are and appoint guardians for any minor children.
If a Revocable Living Trust is set up correctly (and all of the property and assets are properly transferred to the trust while you’re alive), it will provide the following benefits: Avoid probate entirely; distribute property and assets to the beneficiaries almost immediately; ensure any minor or disabled children are cared for; handle financial affairs if someone becomes incompetent; and save money in federal estate tax and capital gains taxes.
Many of the injustices I felt in the podcast were completely avoidable. In our business we have heard of many similar situations happening and we love being able to help families avoid situations just like these with proper estate planning.
For less than the cost of one of John B McLemore's "charity" tattoo sessions you can purchase our Revocable Living Trust Package (Learn the difference between wills and trusts here). Do it for yourself or your loved ones and avoid the fighting and finger-pointing that almost always accompany death with no estate plan in place. You can get started HERE.
You don't have to leave your estate (or the estate of your loved ones) with as many possible "outcomes" as John B's hedge maze. You can create a simple solution to avoid any estate planning issues by creating a will or trust and make your wishes legally known. The process is actually very simple and affordable...trust us you'll be surprised. By answering the five questions in our video below you can easily get started on your estate plan today:
If you are interested in learning more about estate planning and find out why a revocable living trust would have been a great option for John B McLemore visit us at Easy Legal Planning. And use the code STOWN at checkout for $100 off a trust package.