Monday, October 17, 2016

Election time, and the probate/trust gang is laughing all the way to the bank. Or to church...

See 4/19/2017 update below post.

"A worse criminal government has never existed. Yet, Americans remain subservient to the criminals that they have placed in power over themselves." - from an article by Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Ya can't really blame the probate/trust gang for those peals of laughter. Election time, and not one word about South Carolina's probate/trust racket. The money-grubbing scum who make life miserable - and expensive - for the bereaved have got to be rolling in the aisles as a cowardly public quietly submits to abuse and lines the pockets of probate attorneys and trust operations all across the state.

This is not how democracy is supposed to work.

America has degenerated into a sleazy little rat hole of pervasive corruption in both the public and private sectors, promoted by a presstitute mainstream media that "knows better" than to "tell it like it is." The very idea of "lawmakers" quietly passing probate laws designed to pad their own pockets, assured that we no longer have a free press offering any oversight.

As attorney-legislators do everything possible to nullify wills, someone said a friend of theirs from Kentucky was told that because a will written in that state had a "death with dignity" clause, the will wouldn't be valid in South Carolina. More evidence - none was needed - that probate attorneys are no longer satisfied to be paid exorbitant fees to draw up wills. They now want to also be paid gobs of moolah to administer estates, and the more wills that get nullified, the more profitable it is for members of the probate/trust racket. The scam works best, of course, when an unsuspecting public remains unaware of absurd laws designed to enrich the bank accounts of the probate/trust gang. Never underestimate the shock when a bereaved taxpayer suddenly discovers that "their" government has turned on them like a mad dog.

There wuzza time when slobs who betrayed the public trust ran the risk of being tarred, feathered, and ushered out of town on a rail. But no more. If anything, Americans have reduced themselves to name-droppin', social-climbin' morons who consider it an honor and a privilege not only to re-elect, but also to do business with high-falutin' thugs who hold political office. Amerika may be many things - the home of the brave it's not.

If kicking people around who are struggling through the process of bereavement weren't so brutal and cowardly, it would be a hoot watching the likes of Governor Nikki Haley, the South Carolina Policy Council, and "news" organizations like WIS-10 (promoting itself as SC's news "leader") refuse to address the probate/trust racket. The only "news" about probate is blabber extolling the virtues of setting up a trust, like a guy from Ensemble Capital that I heard on the radio program "Health, Wealth, and Happiness." Never any mention, of course, of how probate got to be so untenable for the taxpaying public. Corruption reigns supreme, and the "insouciance" of western peoples has indeed assigned their democracies to the trash bins of history. Another person I spoke with about the probate/trust racket immediately noted the connection between such corruption and the record-setting low voter turnout - I quit voting long ago - for South Carolina's last mid-term election.

I'll betcha every gang member involved in the probate/trust racket makes it a point to show up in church every Sunday without fail. Nuthin' like devotion to the Golden Rule...

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Update 4/19/2017 - AFTER the election, Senator Setzler's CONFLICT OF INTEREST was exposed. It's now a matter of public record that Tricky Nikki receives income from his probate-dealing law firm.

Update 3/11/2017 - Probate attorney Nikki Setzler - re-elected again - is no doubt glad mainstream media keeps things quiet about the probate racket. Wonder if trust firms like Caldwell, Inc. contribute to Setzler's campaigns.

Update 11/17/2016 - Unconfirmed news accounts say Gov. Haley is being considered for a position in the Trump administration. Let's hope not - just sent the president-elect a tweet to that effect with a link to this blog.

Update 1/9/2017 - News reports have by now long been confirmed: Trump wants an "ambassador" (Gov. Haley) who treats the bereaved like dirt.




    

Friday, June 17, 2016

Law directing 30 days to file a will makes a mockery of bereavement

I don't know which is more repulsive: a gang of greedy, sadistic slobs in the legislature, or a tail-tucked public that tolerates being fleeced and kicked around.

Talk about laws that help South Carolina probate attorneys fleece the bereaved. You must present a will to the probate court within 30 days of a decedent's death or be subject to a penalty..

Right. Ya wanna hit the bereaved as shortly as possible after the death of a loved one in order to get the maximum impact of all those complexities self-serving attorneys in the legislature have written into the probate process. Sure to send victims of South Carolina's probate racket scurrying off to a probate attorney, checkbook in hand. Then they can tell everyone about "the horrors of probate," and why folks should pay attorneys to set up trusts.

At first, I thought it was kinda strange that the law has been kept relatively quiet. Then I discovered that nobody has actually been penalized for violating the law, and I realized that the 30-day law is just another effort to make life as miserable as possible for anyone who dares to rely on wills and the taxpayer-funded probate process when they claim an inheritance. Surprising heirs with news that they're already in violation of a probate law has that element of shock value, so cleverly and sadistically applied by South Carolina "lawmakers." Someone needs to drive the point home to these self-serving slobs that bereavement is a permanent injury, has no time limits, and affects every person differently.

The probate/trust racket is what tyranny looks like, and it's one shameful state of affairs for South Carolina.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

For SC's probate racket, silence is golden

"...they cannot rescue themselves via the voting booth. In my opinion, the American people will remain serfs until they wake up to Revolution." - Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

It's been a hoot watching the charade of silence surrounding South Carolina's probate racket. From Governor Haley to mainstream media, the guideline is "keep it quiet," and news blackouts are in full swing, most notably, perhaps, by South Carolina's "News Leader," WIS-10. Even the SC Policy Council dares not address the issue. I've sent both of these "news" organizations links to this blog, and my Facebook message (with a link to this blog) to the local radio show, "Return to Joy," - which purports to help folks struggling through the process of bereavement - got no reply. 

A couple of months ago, I tuned in to another local radio spot, Frankie Griffin's "Success in Real Estate Show," and was treated to blabberings from a spokesperson for Caldwell, Inc., extolling the virtues of setting up trusts to avoid probate. How the taxpayer-funded nightmare of probate got started in South Carolina wasn't mentioned, and a "caller" chimed in with remarks about how simply having a will no longer offered any assurance that the probate process would be reasonably simple. Interesting that Caldwell, Inc. was founded shortly before the SC legislature turned the taxpayer-funded probate process into an attorney-serving nightmare for heirs. Realtor Frankie Griffin, incidentally, also promotes Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) - I call 'em neighborhood gangs - and he's quick to point out that HOAs have been granted police powers and can file liens and foreclose on properties. 

Ah, that orchestrated effort at brainwashing a gullible, cowardly public. The "Home of the Brave" is apparently scared to death of a gang of self-serving attorneys in the legislature, not to mention the American Bar Association. 

Meanwhile, Kenny Bingham's bill regarding time limits on wills never even got a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. The effort at keeping things quiet regarding Chairman Bingham's watered-down bill - time limits on wills need to be abolished, not reformed - have been incredibly successful, and as things unfolded, I realized just how determined South Carolina's corrupt power structure is to bury the issue. The realization prompted me to re-publish a post I had previously removed, and include a detailed explanation of how the came to be published.

In my open remarks to Senator Setzler, I asked what it will take for the taxpaying public to get some fundamental decency out of this government. But here's a better question:

How much longer will the taxpaying public sacrifice its time, money, and effort at the alter of a pervasively corrupt power structure?

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Update 4/18/2017 - The probate-dealing law firm - Williams, Stitely, and Brink - that I've been protesting in front of across from the Lexington Probate Court sure has gone silent since I exposed what they said to me about my presence. 

Update 2/23/2017 - Today I stood in front of the SC State House holding up a sign that directed folks to this blog, and it was a hoot watching a WIS-10 "news" crew drive nonchalantly by, apparently knowing better than to investigate and submit a story.

Update 1/27/2017 - In addition to having a slew of attorney-legislators, South Carolina now has an attorney-governor. Henry McMaster has yet to breathe a word about the probate racket.

Update 6/9/2016 - Dr. Paul Craig Roberts references a great article that discusses efforts to keep the public unaware of corrupt laws. South Carolina's probate racket epitomizes this sorry state of affairs.

Update 7/14/2016 - Caldwell, Inc. recently came up with a new radio ad. Their previous ad belted out "Probate is avoidable, peace of mind is attainable," but any reference to probate has now been removed. My, my, wonder why.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Maybe Senator Setzler didn't get my email...

Update 4/25/2017 - The senator's CONFLICT OF INTEREST (he derives income from his probate-dealing law firm) has now been exposed.

Update 5/25/2016 - Yesterday at 5:19 PM, I received the following e-mail from Senator Setzler:

Mr. Boyd,

Thank you for cantacting me with your support of H.5196 along with your more recent email regarding this same matter. The bill was just recently introduced in April and has not made it to the Senate for review. Any similar legislation along with this legislation will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am not a member. Upon receipt of your email from two weeks ago, I reviewed the language and have been in communication with others. We are in the last several weeks of this legislative session, and my email responses may be delayed relative to this issue. I am, however, inclined to support Representative Bingham's bill.

Nikki Setzler
______________________________________________________________________________

I'll say one thing about Nikki Setzler, the South Carolina state senator from my district who also happens to be a probate attorney: His law firm sure has a nice suite of offices. Plush carpeting, hardwood floors, the works. I was a bit put off when I first saw the note at the front door telling visitors to make sure they didn't have any grease on their shoes, but once I stepped inside...

I can understand a guy lookin' out for his interests.

Monday two weeks ago, I tried to send an e-mail to Senator Setzler, politely inquiring about what he's done, or plans to do, to simplify South Carolina's probate process. I pointed out that uncalled-for complexities have turned the process into a nightmare for anyone attempting to probate an inheritance, and that it takes an average of one year to complete. I also encouraged him to support Kenny Bingham's efforts to give probate courts discretion regarding when to apply South Carolina's 10 year limit on wills.

I didn't expect a very long list of efforts on his part to simplify the process, or even a willingness to support Kenny Bingham's bill. But I can't find any reply whatsoever.

Maybe Senator Setzler didn't get my e-mail.

Then again, probate attorneys in South Carolina must be incredibly busy these days, so maybe the senator simply doesn't have time to acknowledge e-mails. And if that's the case, Senator Setzler, I certainly understand:

Come to think of it, Senator, there are several other things I'd like to get your thoughts on.

When I spoke with an attorney who works in one of your fancy office suites, he implied that the funeral home should have informed me of South Carolina's 10 year limit on wills. Do you and the lawyers in your firm think that would be the appropriate time to discuss such matters?

As I mentioned in my e-mail, the probate process has become a nightmare. In fact, Senator, it has all the trappings of a racket, whereby people struggling through the process of bereavement are treated like dirt.

Tell me, Senator: What is it going to take for the taxpaying public to get some fundamental decency out of this government? Has the time come for massive displays of non-violent civil disobedience? In what sense do we have a democracy when a gang of so-called "legislators" look out for their own selfish interests instead of the legitimate interests of the people they are charged with representing?

I'll try again on the e-mail, with a link to this post, and I'll send a link to Governor Haley on Twitter. Hopefully, they'll both get the message.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Update 5/23/2016 - Many thanks to all those who signaled support as I picketed this afternoon in front of Nikki Setzler's law firm. The senator remains conveniently silent about South Carolina's probate racket.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Former attorney's e-mail shows the direction South Carolina's probate racket is headed

Recently, I got an e-mail from a retired attorney in Illinois. Here are a few excerpts (emphasis mine):

"For years the probate courts have been cesspools. I was not aware of there being a statute of limitations on the probate of testamentary documents, or even the need for one. I was aware that attempts to steal the proceeds of estates has been a national disgrace for a long time.

When I first became a lawyer, I heard a more seasoned lawyer tell his client, "If dad dies, before you call the undertaker, get into the safety deposit box and empty it."

When I asked the question, "why?" I was told that the undertaker put a death notice in the newspaper and the bank sealed the box - it could be reopened only after a representative of the State of Illinois visited the box. In the inspect of the box and inventory by the state in order for the inheritance tax to be assessed, value items usually disappeared. Of course the inspector denied that these items were ever in the box - as the state employee and maybe an assistant were the only ones allowed to examine the box it was their word against yours. You certainly could not search their brief cases.

I then made further inquiry and found that the seasoned lawyer was not the only one who gave that advice or experienced that problem. In fact the advice was quite common and even today most of the people I deal with or dealt with try to avoid keeping fungible items in the box.

No probate is necessary if everyone agrees to the terms of the will and all the legitimate expenses of the decedent are paid.

What is relevant to me is the fact that the probate courts are viewed with such suspicion and fear of fraud. The elder cleansing (guardianship) scandal is so rampant and so venal that people are afraid of the Court, its corruption, and the miscreants who inhabit the same. In a democracy such is intolerable as the Court system is the escape valve of society! We need it to address our legitimate concerns!"

It's way past time for Governor Haley, the SC Policy Council, and mainstream news media to inform the public about South Carolina's probate racket before it gets even worse than it already is.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A closer look at Lexington County Probate Court

Update 4/28/2017 - It's now a matter of public record that Senator Setzler does indeed have a CONFLICT OF INTEREST when it comes to SC's probate racket. He derives income from his probate-dealing law firm.

Self-serving slobs - er I mean attorneys - in the legislature have passed a law prohibiting probate court personnel from giving "legal advice." Kinda vague, but the message is clear: "Drum up as much business as possible for probate attorneys."

Summary of my situation

I initially telephoned Lexington County Probate Court and was told that my mother's will was no longer valid, and I would have to contact an attorney. I told them I wanted to act as my own attorney and was told that I couldn't do so.

I then contacted the attorney who drew up my mother's will. He no longer handled probate matters, and referred me to an attorney in Richland County who offered to resolve my mother's will for $1,800 and my dad's for an additional $700 (I should be able to probate my dad's will myself, but my mother's will has to be probated first). When asked, he said I could represent myself in resolving my mother's will, but he "wouldn't recommend it."

Next, I visited the probate court with my mother's will, explained that an attorney had told me I could represent myself, and was nonetheless again instructed to see an attorney, and I was given a couple of phone numbers for lawyer referral services. And... I was strongly advised to see an attorney in Lexington County.

Right. If yer gonna force folks to hire an attorney, it might as well be one in the county the court is located in. Never mind that any probate attorney in the state is capable of handling the matter.

After I persisted in requesting to represent myself, mention was made of a "Determination of Heirs," the fact that the court had no forms relevant to this, and that in addition to preparing legal documents, there was some sort of requirement that I run a few newspaper ads. Later, I telephoned the court and asked for a standard packet of forms. I noticed a place to explain facts justifying "Tardy Probate," so I went ahead and completed the first form - an application to be appointed personal representative of my mother's estate - had it notarized, and took it to the court...

But alas. The notarized application to be appointed personal representative of my mother's estate - which shouldn't have been necessary anyway since I was named Executor in her will - was refused. I was told that "an attorney will have to be involved," and when I asked court personnel to provide that in writing, my request was refused. Twice.

So I consulted an attorney in Lexington County. In fact, I consulted an attorney in the law offices of my district's senator - and probate attorney - Nikki Setzler. Not that Senator Setzler might conceivably have a conflict of interest when it comes to legislation aimed at simplifying the probate process, but his guy wanted $1,500 plus $275 per hour to probate my mother's estate.

Shortly thereafter, I contacted my district's House representative Kenny Bingham to see if any efforts were underway to eliminate South Carolina's time limit for probating wills, and that led to a bill giving probate courts discretion. The bill remains in committee, but at least it's a start in addressing the probate/trust racket in South Carolina.

Probate racketeering is taking place all across America, and it's the product of a brain-dead, cowardly public that tolerates anything special interests dish out. For anyone out there who still has a sense of fundamental decency and is willing to act on it, here are a few suggestions:

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Update 5/13/2016 - Monday of this week, I sent an e-mail to Senator Setzler, asking what he's done, or plans to do, to simplify South Carolina's probate process, and I encouraged him to support Kenny Bingham's efforts. I'm unaware of any response from Senator Setzler. Stay tuned.

Update 5/21/2016 - Still can't find any response from Senator Setzler. 'Course, I realize that probate attorneys in SC must be very busy these days...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bill to help victims of 10 yr limit on wills inexcusably delayed

Update 1/20/2017 - Rep. Bingham has retired, and I've heard nothing further about the bill he introduced.

Update 5/13/2016 - I inquired, and attorney Emma Dean says the bill remains in the Judiciary Committee - it's now been there over a month - and I "will be notified IF (emphasis mine) it receives a hearing." If the bill doesn't pass during the current legislative session, it will have to be reintroduced next session. Looks like a case of "too little, too late." 

It's not as though the bill makes any earthshaking changes. All it does is give probate courts discretion in deciding whether to apply South Carolina's 10 year limit on probating wills.

The bill was introduced in the House April 12, 2016, and continues to "reside" in the Judiciary Committee. I understand the procedure, and that it takes time for a committee to examine a bill. But this bill is as simple and straightforward as it gets, the current legislative session ends in early June, and any delay is inexcusable. If those involved had the best interests of South Carolinians at heart, the bill would have been passed posthaste.

Point is, there was never a need to have time limits on wills. Many other states don't have such limits, neither should South Carolina. Time limits on wills serve the interests of nobody other than probate attorneys, many of whom have wormed their way into the South Carolina legislature and have turned the probate process into nothing more than a money-making racket.

I'll reiterate what I previously wrote:

It is becoming obvious that we now live in an oligarchy run by special interests. In South Carolina, we are confronted not only by the probate/trust racket, but also by a gang of "legislators" who won't repair the roads, waste tax dollars on roundabouts, and have turned a deaf ear to widespread public outrage over homeowners associations (HOAs).

One thing's for sure:

Only a gang of subhuman monsters would line their own pockets by leveraging tax dollars to torment people struggling through the process of bereavement.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

THANK YOU, Ethics Chairman Kenny Bingham, for your bill regarding South Carolina's time limit on wills.

Update 6/3/2016 - I've decided to re-publish a previous post regarding events leading up to the publication of this post.

I e-mailed Kenneth A. "Kenny" Bingham (House Representative for my district, and chairman of the Ethics Committee), asking if any efforts were underway to eliminate placing time limits on wills, and I mentioned that many states had no limits. He e-mailed back immediately, asking for specifics regarding my situation. Here's a copy of my reply:

Dear Mr. Bingham,

Many thanks for your interest and your efforts.

I'm an only child, sole heir, age 70, and have lived in South Carolina most of my life. My mother died in 2002 at age 86, a year after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The property deed is in all three of our names (we each purchased a third), and each of us had wills leaving our share to each other and naming each other as executors. We all three lived at the residence since purchasing it in the late 70s, and all financial accounts were joint with right of survivorship.

When my mother died, I was devastated, but I was honored to accept full-time-care-giving-duties for my dad. I was totally unfamiliar with the probate process - all relatives are in distant states out west - and I could discern no immediate reason to have my mother's will probated. To the best of my knowledge, the matter involved no time limits and could be resolved by little more than taking death certificates to the Register of Deeds. In 2010, my dad died at home at age 92.

Several years after my dad died, I contacted Lexington County Probate Court and was told that my mother's will was no longer valid and I would have to hire a lawyer. I was told that I could not represent myself in the matter - something I now know is technically incorrect, but intestate requirements (Determination of Heirs) are indeed beyond the expertise of most folks. Attorney fees to resolve my situation are in the $2,000 range, and as you may imagine, I have been in quite a quandary regarding how to proceed.

I think my situation demonstrates that each case is unique. This is no doubt why other states - including Florida, Virginia, and Oregon - have no time limits, and why Pennsylvania has a limit of 21 years. Everyone I've spoken with is unaware of South Carolina's current 10-year limit and is shocked and dismayed to learn of it. I don't think South Carolina had any such limits prior to 1986.

Any assistance you can offer will be deeply appreciated.

Sincerely,

Parris Boyd

Chairman Bingham referred me to Emma Dean, an attorney who works with the House Judiciary Committee, and the two of them prepared a bill aimed at helping me, and people in situations similar to mine. Chairman Binghams's bill has now been submitted to the Judiciary Committee.

Saying that I appreciate the efforts of Chairman Bingham and attorney Dean is certainly an understatement. I hope the South Carolina legislature will pass Chairman Bingham's bill without delay.

Update 1/20/2017 - All for naught. Chairman Bingham retired last year, and I've heard nothing further about the bill he introduced.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Legal Aid? No, Mr. "Ethics" Chairman. What I need is a government with fundamental decency.

Update 6/3/2016 - On 4/20/16, bewildered by the strange sequence of events, I removed this post. I've decided to re-publish it, along with a detailed explanation of what happened. 

I first contacted Kenny Bingham on 2/25/16, and received the insulting "legal aid" e-mail from Emma Dean (copy to Kenny) on 3/15/16. I immediately replied that I didn't qualify for legal aid. On 3/29/16, I asked attorney Dean for the status of Rep. Bingham's bill, and got no reply. On 4/4/16, having heard nothing from attorney Dean, I published this blog, and on 4/5/16, I sent a blog link to attorney Dean (copy to Kenny Bingham). 


I heard nothing more from attorney Dean until 4/20/16, which was two days after this post was publicized on Blogger, Facebook, and Twitter, including links to Governor Haley, and the blog had received over 200 visits. On 4/20/16 at 8:37 AM, I received an e-mail from attorney Dean informing me that Kenny Bingham's bill had been submitted to the House Judiciary Committee on 4/12/16. Bewildered, but willing to give them the benefit of a doubt, I then removed this post and published a post thanking Chairman Bingham and attorney Dean for their efforts.


There seems to be a concerted effort - from the legislature to mainstream media - to "keep it quiet" regarding anything relevant to South Carolina's probate/trust racket. 


Before publishing this blog, I e-mailed Kenneth A. "Kenny" Bingham (House Representative for my district, and chairman of the Ethics Committee), asking if any efforts were underway to eliminate placing time limits on wills. I mentioned that many states had no limits, and he asked for specifics regarding my situation. Here's a copy of my reply:

Dear Mr. Bingham,

Many thanks for your interest and your efforts.

I'm an only child, sole heir, age 70, and have lived in South Carolina most of my life. My mother died in 2002 at age 86, a year after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The property deed is in all three of our names (we each purchased a third), and each of us had wills leaving our share to each other and naming each other as executors. We all three lived at the residence since purchasing it in the late 70s, and all financial accounts were joint with right of survivorship.

When my mother died, I was devastated, but I was honored to accept full-time-care-giving-duties for my dad. I was totally unfamiliar with the probate process - all relatives are in distant states out west - and I could discern no immediate reason to have my mother's will probated. To the best of my knowledge, the matter involved no time limits and could be resolved by little more than taking death certificates to the Register of Deeds. In 2010, my dad died at home at age 92.

Several years after my dad died, I contacted Lexington County Probate Court and was told that my mother's will was no longer valid and I would have to hire a lawyer. I was told that I could not represent myself in the matter - something I now know is technically incorrect, but intestate requirements (Determination of Heirs) are indeed beyond the expertise of most folks. Attorney fees to resolve my situation are in the $2,000 range, and as you may imagine, I have been in quite a quandary regarding how to proceed.

I think my situation demonstrates that each case is unique. This is no doubt why other states - including Florida, Virginia, and Oregon - have no time limits, and why Pennsylvania has a limit of 21 years. Everyone I've spoken with is unaware of South Carolina's current 10-year limit and is shocked and dismayed to learn of it. I don't think South Carolina had any such limits prior to 1986.

Any assistance you can offer will be deeply appreciated.

Sincerely,

Parris Boyd

The "ethics" chairman referred me to Emma Dean, an attorney (of course), and the two of them put on an award-winning "we'll-try-to- help" performance that would have made any politician proud. Their "encouraging" e-mails went on for about two and a half weeks, suddenly culminating in an absurd and insulting e-mail from attorney Dean (copy to Kenny) suggesting that I contact legal aid services to see if I qualified. This was followed by their refusal to reply to any of my subsequent e-mails.

Perhaps the "ethics" chairman and attorney Dean were offended that anyone would dare to address the nonsensical nature of placing time limits on wills, and the outlandish fees probate attorneys are raking in to "resolve" such matters.

It is becoming obvious that we now live in an oligarchy run by special interests. In South Carolina, we are confronted not only by the probate/trust racket, but also by a gang of "legislators" who won't repair the roads, waste tax dollars on roundabouts, and have turned a deaf ear to widespread public outrage over homeowners' associations (HOAs).

One thing's for sure:

Only a gang of subhuman monsters would line their own pockets by leveraging tax dollars to torment people struggling through the process of bereavement.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring an attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Heirs shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Monday, April 4, 2016

10 year limit for probating wills is one of many horrors facing heirs

Update 4/26/2017 - Senator Nikki Setzler, one of South Carolina's most influential lawmakers, has NOW BEEN EXPOSED for his CONFLICT OF INTEREST. He derives income from his probate-dealing law firm.

"In most areas of this country, the probate process is a scandal, a form of tribute levied by the legal profession upon the estates of its victims both living and dead." - editorial by Norman F. Dacey, author of How to Avoid Probate. (Updated in 1984 and 1990)

It's been kept remarkably quiet - everyone I've mentioned it to is shocked and dismayed - but South Carolina has a 10 year limit - beginning on a decedent's date of death - for probating a will. The law allows no exceptions and was passed in 1986, the year the legislature ushered in a slew of lawyer-serving complexities - effective 7/1/87 - for anyone attempting to claim an inheritance. Enter a sadistic little "gotcha" game, whereby unsuspecting heirs are told that a decedent's will is no longer valid, "Deeming" a decedent to have died without a will opens up a lawyer's smorgasbord of legal complexities, including court appearances, court fees, intricate filing requirements (ever tried filing a lis pendens with a circuit court?), and the preparation of documents you won't find on the Internet. The matter - petitioning the Court for a Determination of Heirs - is suddenly beyond the expertise of most folks, and attorney fees to settle the simplest of such situations are in the $2,000 range. After considering what's involved - make a mistake and the entire process starts over again - if you still dare to attempt to exercise your right to represent yourself, don't be surprised if you're pressured by court personnel to hire an attorney.

The 10-year scam - many states (including Florida, Oregon, and Virginia) have no time limits for probating wills, and Pennsylvania has a limit of 21 years - is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to legislation promoting the interests of attorneys. Lexington County affords a good example. People attempting to probate estates - even if there's a will - are immediately clobbered with thick packets of multi-colored forms that are written in legalese, demand mind-boggling detail (the "Inventory and Appraisement" form, for example, is a product of the SC Tax Commission) and each form has to be notarized. You may be hit with additional forms depending on your situation. Miss any filing deadlines, and an Executor (now called a Personal Representative) is subject to paying penalties. A person must even file a written, notarized application to be appointed Personal Representative regardless of whether or not the person is named Executor or Personal Representative in a will. Here again, if you make an error on any of the forms, the entire form must be filled out again and notarized. The "message," of course, is to hire an attorney, and to drive the point home, each form has a place for an attorney's signature. If you go that route, even for the simplest of cases, prepare to shell out in the vicinity of $700.

Don't think you'll escape the probate nightmare simply because the names of heirs are listed on a real estate deed. A Supreme Court decision closed that threat to the probate process. If your deed doesn't include the phrase "with right of survivorship" or similar language, you're out of luck. J. Kristi Hood, author of Probate Pirates, sums things up in her title to chapter one: "It's all about the money all of the time."

In past years, probating an inheritance in South Carolina was relatively simple, but now the process averages an entire year. Some estates have allegedly been tied up in probate for 10 years and are still unresolvedAs for trusts, they've been turned into yet another money-making scheme for lawyers offering to "protect" consumers from the "horrors of probate." Talk about a racket. In his book, "Of the Sharks, By the Sharks, For the Sharks - The Death of Justice," Paul Sharp offers an apt summary regarding Trusts. As things now stand in South Carolina, the "probate pirates" have "gotcha" one way or the other.

Meanwhile, Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council bemoans the "cozy relationship" between legislators and judges, calling South Carolina "the most corrupt state in the country," and allegations of public corruption in the SC General Assembly are making headlines.

Remember: YOUR TAX DOLLARS pay for probate, and it should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts.

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an e-mail expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

Update 4/5/2016 - A million thanks to the many folks who signaled their support as I picketed in front of Lexington County Probate Court yesterday afternoon. Probate rackets exploit the vulnerabilities of people struggling through the bereavement process, and mainstream media keeps things quiet.

Update 4/8/2016 - Thanks to everyone who offered support as I picketed again yesterday.