Over the years these low-stress, no-strings events as in-person chats or large online gatherings help get the stuff on our minds out on the table to talk about.
The High Functioning Happy Hour (HFHH) is back in 2022 – it’s been a while!
Over the years I’ve had so many great questions and conversations with you – thank you. A few questions are on many people’s minds and to-do lists, along with requests for more information and resources, I hope you find these highlights and Q&As helpful.
High Functioning Happy Hour: Q&A Highlights
Q&A: What do you do if your family won’t get their stuff together? What happens if you die without a will?
- My MIL always says that it doesn’t matter because she doesn’t have much money. I say how long it takes in probate and the costs and she still won’t.
- How do you start the probate process? How are debts paid in the probate process? Do you have any references for the probate process?
Happy Hour Introduction
I started this work nearly ten years ago by launching a small website with some advice and lists after my late husband was killed in an accident. He was hit by a van while he was riding his bicycle and we spent a full week in the ICU doing every test and everything possible. As the days went on and he still wasn’t waking up, he never regained consciousness, I became more and more aware each day that the medical support keeping him alive had become medical intervention and all those machines were just prolonging his death.
During that week in the hospital, I was asked a million questions, half of which I didn’t actually have answers to, or I had to go dig in the files, or I just didn’t know. Very quickly I noticed a few categories of things that kept bubbling up over the days, months and even years as details or documents that would have made things much easier if we’d organized or completed them before. (Get the GYST Essentials checklist here)
I ended up doing was sort of reverse engineering, everything that I wish I would’ve done or learned the hard way I created a quick little checklist. It took me a few years to put it together and then put it out into the world in a little teeny website and very quickly, um, it took off – nearly 10 years later, here we are.
I’d like to remind everyone I’m not an attorney, I’m not a financial planner and I’m not here to sell you life insurance. But what I really hope to do is be an advocate for us to get more informed, get more educated about a number of the very simple things we can do that will make a hard time, a little bit softer. Not less sad, but if there are 500 things and questions and documents and passwords to deal with, and if we can do a little bit of organizing in advance, maybe it’s only five dozen, or if we’re very lucky just five – that creates a lot more space in the room. Less stress, less ‘optional’ suffering.
Happy Hour Q&A
What happens when you die without a will?
Question: My MIL always says that it doesn’t matter because she doesn’t have much money. I say how long it takes in probate and the costs and she still won’t.
Question: How do you start the probate process? How are debts paid in the probate process? Do you have any references for the probate process?May 12 Happy Hour Group
Answer: This is a really great question. I get this question very frequently. Probate is the legal process of managing someone’s estate after they die usually involving paying off debts and distributing assets to heirs or beneficiaries.
We’ve all heard or imagined, hopefully not lived through, that kind of weight or load – the consequences of not having our shit together. It feels like too much, or unbearable, or like it will never end. But, how much or long does it really take? A few recent studies tell us it’s really as bad as though, or worse.
Why and How it Matters
On average, it takes about a year, about 13 months, to handle the paperwork, follow ups and closing out someone’s estate when someone dies with a will. If you are managing an estate and they died without a will (dying intestate) it can take about 20 months, close to two years on average.
The hundreds of tasks add up to many people making a phone call or spending an hour every day while newly, actively grieving and taking over your family time or work day. The majority of people report feeling they had no guidance or support. Many say it negatively impacted their mental health and performance at work.
What You Can Do: By getting our shit together now, we can cut those calls and tasks at least in half and with a few more steps make it even easier.
What You Should Know: Estate plan documents and probate specifics are state specific so laws can vary from state to state.
- The person managing a will (executor) or someone designated by the court to manage someone’s estate (personal representative) if they had no will is responsible for many administrative and financial tasks.
- Having a will simplifies the process of passing along someone’s assets during and probate process.
- If you die without a will then the state you live in will decide who-gets-what based on the laws of that state as part of probate process.
- When beneficiaries are listed on financial/investment accounts then those assets are not included in the estate’s assets, are not part of the probate assets, and can more quickly be transferred to that beneficiary.
- Having a will can make the probate process more quickly and be less complicated.
- Trusts are often created (ex, living trust) as a way to ‘skip’ pass outside of the probate process as they are non-probate assets.
- A Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) is allowed in many (not all) states as a way to transfer the deed to your home to someone outside of the probate process.
Learn More: Information and Resources
- Updating beneficiaries on your financial accounts – Bankratee’s how-to
- What is probate? Nolo FAQ
- Settling debts after someone dies: AARP’s tips
- How to start probate: LegalZoom 4 Steps
- What you need to manage probate: EZProbate guide
- Transfer on Death Deed (TODD): Policy Genius overview