Heat radiates from the flames spreading across the open field. The firemen rush to contain the fire. It has already consumed much of the landscape in its path. Despite gallons of water dropped on the flames, they continue to grow. The situation continues to go from bad to worse. Miles away a family sits watching the horror unfold on the evening news, a fire burning safely in their fire place. This fire provides warmth and a sense of security. The family watches as finally, the firemen contain the flames but it is too late; the damage done, most of the field is lost.
Those fires could be your assets in the future. If you have a $500,000 parcel of real estate in California and that is the only asset the total probate costs could exceed $26,000. If the equity in the property is only $100,000 the fees are still $26,000. Just like the field on fire, fees consume your assets. Eventually, everything works out, but with a huge portion lost to fees.
If that same estate is in a Revocable Living Trust then the fees to transfer the property to your heirs will be considerably less than $26,000. Therefore your heirs will receive a greater percentage of your estate because of your complete Estate Plan. This is the warm, safe fire, resting comfortably in the fire place. However, just like an incorrectly used fireplace can create danger, an Estate Plan prepared incorrectly may cause fighting among the children. This could lead to a substantial amount of the assets being consumed. It is not unusual for probate or trust litigation to consume 30%, 40%, 50%, or more of the assets of an Estate.
A solid Estate Plan created specifically with your family in mind is not only the fire in the fireplace. It is fire insurance in case something goes wrong.