Why You Need an Estate Administration Attorney After the Death of a Loved One

Lay people often mistakenly suppose that seeking legal counsel for advice on the administration of an estate is always more expensive than if you manage to deal with paperwork and other legalities after the death of a loved one on your own. This erroneous assumption often leads to the following scenario.

A loved one, we will call “Mom”, passes away. Sally, who is named an executor of Mom’s will, goes to the bank to seek access to Mom’s account to help pay for funeral expenses and to pay Mom’s bills. While at the bank, Sally is denied access to the accounts, because she does not have the proper paperwork. Sally looking to save money, does not seek the advice of legal counsel and instead seeks advice from the bank teller, her neighbor, her CPA, her friends, or of course, even Google. After seeking all such advice, she heads down to the local courthouse to collect what she now believes she needs to get access to the account. While at the courthouse, Sally elects to qualify as an executor of Mom’s estate, post a bond, and pay probate taxes. While at the courthouse, Sally learns she now has a whole host of new duties, including filing inventories and accountings with the local Commissioner.

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Unfortunately, what Sally does not realize is that by electing to navigate the legal landscape of probate on her own, she may have chosen the much harder route. It may be the case that the assets in Mom’s estate do not warrant the need to qualify and file accountings before a Commissioner of Accounts. Another possibility is that Mom’s debts far exceed any amount in the bank account, so she very well might have been advised by an attorney not to qualify as an executor at all.  There are a number of instances in Virginia law where it does not behoove you to head to the courthouse first. Always, always¸ seek the advice of counsel before making any such decisions or relying on the advice of a bank teller or court clerk. Believe it or not, simply seeking a consultation with an attorney may actually save you a great deal of money and headaches in the future.

Kit Kat

Ask Kit Kat – End to Greyhound Racing?

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about Florida legislation which will be on the ballot this November to end greyhound racing?

Kit Kat: Well, hopefully, the time has come to end this awful sport. Greyhounds at tracks are kept in ridiculously small cages, sometimes with 2 in cage. On average, the dogs spend 20-23 hours per day in a cage, with only a small amount of time to stretch and run in a ridiculously small yard. Animal welfare advocates have worked tirelessly to get a proposal on the Florida ballot to remove the requirement for tracks to hold live dog races in order for certain gambling games to take place and to totally outlaw all dog racing there by December 31, 2020. Florida has the majority of greyhound racing tracks—11 of the 17 that still operate nationwide.

The successful effort to get this proposal on the ballot is thanks to the efforts of the US Humane Society (HSUS), GREY2K USA, and advocates such as Sonia Stratemann. Stratemann has founded a greyhound rescue group called Elite Greyhound Adoptions. Since 2006, her group has rehabilitated and found homes for more than 2,300 greyhounds which were castoffs from the racing industry. Stratemann has been forbidden to enter the premises of the Palm Beach Kennel Club, which is near her home, because of her activism. While she can no longer adopt from that particular club, she has joined forces with other organizations to stop this awful industry. Besides abuse, the dogs frequently suffer injuries on the track. Since 2013, more than 460 greyhounds have died from injuries during races, through collisions with other dogs, or other injuries that occur in the brutal racing process.

Let’s hope this initiative is successful! Stay tuned! It’s a tremendously worthwhile endeavor for those of us who love animals and want them treated humanely. (Julie Falconer, “Home Stretch-A History-Making Campaign Could End Greyhound Racing in the US,” All Animals, September/October 2018, p.10-11)

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