The Evils of Probate

First off, let me start this by saying I’m doing my best today to stay positive. Still fighting the good fight. Second, let me say that I too was once one of the masses, one of the lucky who had never experienced probate. I’d heard about it, of course, mentioned with a shudder by those persons who’d had to handle that. Up until now I’d always managed to avoid it.

Second, let me state that attorneys are these useful people who are versed in the laws of the land and how to handle certain situations that might get sticky or otherwise hairy if not done in just a certain way. I had an attorney service I’d kept for a very long and I told everyone how great they were. Well, you don’t know you’re getting bad advice until a judge says that it’s bad advice.

Third. Probate always starts with a death. Kind of like a murder mystery. The mystery here is why probate is still the same as it was in 1810. So the point is to make sure that when someone dies their property goes to the person they wanted it to go to or, if there is no will specifying who gets what, that it goes to the legal heirs. Okay. So probate also makes sure the bills get paid and all of that. Sounds great. Simple.

Holy Frijoles! This has gone on for a year and for the most part that is because the court is ineffectual, loses stuff, mismanages documents and just really makes a big mess of everything. Keep in mind that this stuff they’re managing is what you’re paying an attorney thousands of dollars to do. Probate does not come cheap.

Uncle died. He never probated his mother’s estate. Guess who owned the house? Okay. My mom died. The attorney from the service said do nothing and it will automatically go to my Dad. I took him at his word. Turns out he knew nothing about probate. I wish I could say the same. Judges who take things out of order just because they can and create legal nightmares for constituents whom they are allegedly serving are also part of the nightmares. I understand there are procedures and codes about how to do things but for the love of PB&J please, please, at least try to know what case you’re working on. I swear, I think the man forgot my name about five times in that two hour period.

Additionally, the judge talks this weird, legalese that makes absolutely no sense. “Did you sign the release of something something and waiver?” Um. I don’t know what that is. “Did they tell you that you were getting something?” Yes.

Why not just call it the waiver of you’re getting something?

In addition, in order to start a probate you have to have an attorney. Dallas requires it. You cannot have a probate without at least one and possibly more attorneys. Everyone expects to get money from you. Each document you must submit comes with a submission fee of at least $400. Each. Document. Each time you submit it. If it’s faxed to them upside down (How do they know?) it will not be accepted and must be submitted again and they expect that fee. I mean, really, how do our roads not get paved? I know I have submitted a lot of documents in this last 15 months!

We are making progress. For a simple probate ( i.e. there is a will and only one heir ), it has taken a year, an insane amount of money, a lawyer who will call multiple times a day to remind the clerks that if you lose the depositions we spent thousands of dollars getting from the elderly lady in Michigan who’s still fighting cancer and can’t come to Texas, we will be speaking to your supervisor’s supervisor. (Yes. They lost them. But they did find them again. Eventually.)

In all honesty, you can really see on their faces that they don’t care. They’re there for 8 hours a day and just sit there in their suits and nice outfits and listen to people drone on and on with that legalese that will slowly drive you mad while the AC churns away to keep us all in comfort and luxury. I wanted to jump up and yell, “Ya’ll talk right now!”

The only good thing I can say about probate is it’s almost over. The attorney promises it’s almost over.

She said that last year too.

The one and only enjoyable part of probate so far has been the view. The 22nd floor of Renaissance Tower. Because the court house is being remodeled/updated, they moved to a flashy high rise in downtown where you can see forever. Yep. That’s what I was doing while they were droning on and on. Watching traffic stack up on Woodall Rodgers.

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