Friday, July 21, 2017

Probate Completed, Where Are the Balloons?

For the past 12 to 18 months, possibly longer, you the Personal Representative in a Wisconsin probate have gathered papers, filed taxes, written checks, emptied the fridge, sold the car, distributed the family photographs, written more checks, and have your signature notarized more times than you can recall.  And now the day is here, the day you file the FINAL papers to close the estate.  The last bill to the lawyer is paid, you have free time in your calendar once again.  Things settle down into a new routine, the routine after the loss of a loved one, the routine after the work of the probate, and it feels like something is missing. You did it -- yet those filed court papers just slide off into an abyss.  Will you get a mailing from the court, some sort of official notice that you completed this marathon of a task?

If you are a Personal Representative in a Wisconsin probate the answer is simple, no.  There is no fan fare, no balloon drop, no confetti falling from the sky, not even a ribbon saying you crossed the finish line.  All there is is an entry in the CCAP system stating:
"Probate  -- Closed - File Retained Electronic"
That's it.  A one line entry closing out a challenging job completed during emotionally draining times.  Government has limited resources, and likely does not have the capacity to send out a form let alone a congratulations.  But I'll leave one here for you via You Tube -- enjoy, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thoughts on The Nest: A Novel

Recently I had a chance to sit down with a book that had been on my "to-read" list for some time, The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney.  A work of fiction, the author weaves a complex story line surrounding four adult siblings and the ripple effect of one siblings reckless actions. The book opens with a scathing accident caused by the eldest Plumb child, unleashing a family drama when the mother uses the family trust, lovingly called The Nest by the family, to pay for medical bills of a victim of the accident.  With promises to repay The Nest by the eldest, the book takes the readers into the world of adult children who have spent and counted on these funds prior to the monies scheduled release, the pending 40th birthday of the youngest Plumb child.

From a story point of view, the book is excellent. Complex and vivid characters, unexpected development, and a very nice pace.  However, do not read this book if you want to learn the correct names and functions of powers of attorney and trustee.  Time and time again the author uses incorrect legal terms or glosses over issues that would normally materialize in such a fact pattern.  As an estate planner, this was a difficult book to read.  There is already enough myth and misconception related to estate planning.  But if you are looking for an engaging beach read, pick this up and realize it's fiction!