The EZ-Probate Origin Story
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”― Friedrich Nietzsche
I truly believe every successful entrepreneur has a deep emotional reason why they do what they do… otherwise we would quit. It is just simply too hard, we sacrifice too much to build our companies.
Here’s my story — the reason why I endure the hardships, struggles and self-doubt to build a company I believe in.
I remember the day clearly — when my good friend’s mother called me for help. I could hear the frustration and desperation in her voice. “Is $20,000 too much to pay an attorney to probate mom’s house?” Verda asked. I told her to walk out of that office. I could help her probate the will herself without the attorney.
Verda had been a financial planning client of mine for some time, actually technically her 90+ year old mother was my client, Verda had power of attorney over her mother’s affairs. Verda had been taking care of her elderly mother for several years, and eventually her mother moved in with her. Verda set up a cozy room for her mom, where she did her favorite thing — watch old movies on the VCR.
As you can imagine, taking care of someone full time is mentally, physically and financially draining. Over the years I had gotten to know Verda extremely well and knew her financial situation was not great. Besides taking care of her mother full time, she was often a primary caregiver to her grandchildren, who lived just down the street. In the classic “sandwich” situation, time and financial resources go towards other family member’s care.
And of course, providing all that care has opportunity costs. It’s hard to get promoted or invest consistently when much of your mental and financial resources are spent on others.
When Verda called me that day, she was already financially stressed and emotionally spent. It made sense that she was so deeply hurt that her mother’s attorney of more than 40 years was all business, his only concern how much he could make from the estate. He even told Verda he wouldn’t hand over the will unless she hired him.
As a Certified Financial Planner™ with 18 years of experience dealing with probate attorneys, I was not surprised by his behavior. When she told the attorney she wouldn’t need him, he had the nerve to to tell her “she would be eaten alive” if she didn’t use him.
Fortunately, Verda had a very straightforward estate, and we were able to complete it with no trouble. When she reflects back on probating the estate, she says, “It was so easy! All I had to do was sign the papers you sent and take it to the county clerk. And to think that attorney wanted all that money for that!” Verda was nervous at first, her biggest worry being that she didn’t have an “email machine.” How was I going to help her?
I did it the old fashioned way — lots of phone calls, snail mail, sticky notes, and “sign here” stickers.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of interviewing some of my customers, including Verda, for video testimonials for the website. I wish I could describe the feeling I had when customers looked at me with tears running down their faces and told me, “ I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.”
This is my why — why I spend late nights working, why I left a comfortable career, why I won’t stop until everyone knows they can avoid the attorney in probate.