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Probate Funding: A Useful Option for So Many (Part 1 of 4)

By John Freund |

The following is a contributed article by Steven D. Schroeder, Esq., General Counsel/Sr. Vice President at Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. since 2004. 

There have been a few recent articles written on the topic of Probate Advances.[i] Probate Advances are available because a handful of companies are willing to assume a risk and provide funding in return for a partial assignment of a beneficiary’s interest in an Estate, and to a lesser extent Trust Proceedings. One critic has conflated Assignments to Loans without a fair analysis of the many differences between the two legal maxims.[ii] This 4-part series expands upon those differences and provides a legal and practical perspective as to why Probate Advances are a useful option for so many.

Why is Probate Funding Needed?

Probate Funding is growing in importance due to the increasing percentage of the population (i.e. baby boomers) who die annually and have their Estates and/or Trusts go through probate administration. In theory, the process of distributing a Decedent’s estate should not be complicated. But in practice, administration is rarely quick and easy. Even simple or uncontested Probate administrations take no less than eight (8) months to a year to finalize, while the vast majority of administrations of Probate or Trust Estates take much longer.

Due to funding and short staffing issues, many Courts set hearings months out even on uncontested petitions. Quite often, because of questions relating to the admissibility of a Will, the location of intestate heirs, and/or questions regarding those who may be an interested party, it can take a year just to have someone appointed personal representative.[iii] Moreover, once a Personal Representative is appointed, notice is required to be given to creditors which affords creditors anywhere from four (4) months to one (1) year to file a claim, depending upon the jurisdiction. Then, there is the tedious process of locating and marshalling bank accounts and investments, cleaning up and disposing a lifetime of possessions and/or marketing the Decedent’s real property. Rarely are homes sold within a year, even under the best market conditions. Some properties are occupied by holdover tenants or relatives. Even after the property is liquidated, the process of closing an estate through an accounting, setting a hearing and obtaining Court approval, can take many additional months even if the accounting is uncontested.

Because of the inherent delays of administration, some heirs, who have pressing financial needs (i.e. debts, foreclosure, rent payments, et. al.), are relieved to know that there is a product provided by Probate Funding Companies which can solve their personal financial problems while probate is ongoing.[iv] Whether the purpose of the funds is to prevent foreclosure, pay rent, pay medical bills, pay household debts or pay for continuing education, it makes simple economic sense that individuals would choose to minimize their risks by obtaining an advance now by assigning a fraction of their future and undetermined interest in an estate, rather than waiting for months or years to receive a distribution.

A Case for Probate Funding

Vivian Doris Tanner died in Shasta County, California on April 22, 1997. Her May 10, 1992 Will was admitted to probate by Order of the Probate Court on June 16, 1997 and her named Executor, Earl C. Tanner, Jr. was issued Letters Testamentary with full authority under the Independent Administration and Estate’s Act.  Pursuant to the Will, the named beneficiaries were Helen L. Tanner (20%), Marsha L. Tanner (20%), Katherine L. Courtemanche (20%), Erla Tanner (20%) and Earl C. Tanner (20%).

In February 2009, Robert Frey, an Attorney in Reno, Nevada contacted Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. (“IFC”) on behalf of his client Helen Tanner, a resident of Incline Village, because his client was experiencing hard times due to the crash of the real estate market. His client needed a significant influx of cash ($100,000.00 or more) in order to prevent the foreclosure of her properties while administration of her mother’s estate was pending.

The only remaining assets of the Estate at that time were the Decedent’s interest in Tanner Construction, Inc. which owned a 20% interest in the Dublin Land Company.  IFC was informed that there was ongoing litigation with the Dublin Land Company, including a partnership dissolution suit and a partition action set for trial in the latter portion of 2009. After completing its due diligence, IFC approved funding a $100,000.00 advance for Helen Tanner in consideration of a fixed sum Assignment in the amount of $192,000.00.[v] Shortly thereafter, two (2) other heirs (Marsha Tanner and Katherine Courtemanche) contacted IFC and applied for smaller cash advances, which were also approved.[vi]

During the course of administration, the Executor (Earl Tanner, Jr.) filed at least nine (9) annual status reports requesting continuances of administration until the litigation was resolved and the Dublin land was sold.  Finally, on or about November 23, 2017, the Third and Final Account and Report of the Executor was filed and set for hearing on December 11, 2017. The Account was approved, as were IFC’s three (3) Assignments, which were paid off in full on December 27, 2017, approximately nine (9) years after Ms. Tanner’s original $100,000.00 advance was funded.[vii]

The Tanner case and others like it illustrate the inherent risk in Probate Funding. It took IFC nearly a decade to collect its Assignments in the Tanner case, while in many other cases the funder never collects. With that risk of non-repayment in mind, we now turn to the legal distinctions between Assignments and Loans.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our 4-Part series, where we explain the differences between Assignments and loans, with reference to relevant case law.

Steven D. Schroeder has been General Counsel/Sr. Vice President at Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. since 2004. Active Attorney in good standing, licensed to practice before all Courts in the State of California since 1985 and a Registered Attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

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[i] Horton, David and Chandrasenkher, Andrea, Probate Lending (March 24, 2016). 126 Yale Law Journal. 102 (2016); Kidd, Jeremy, Clarifying the ‘Probate Lending’ Debate: A Response to Professors Horton and Chandrasekher (November 16, 2016). Available to SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2870615; Lloyd, Douglas B., Inheritance Funding: The Purchase of an Assignment From an Heir to a Probate or Trust, Litigation Finance Journal (October 31, 2017), http://litigationfinancejournal.com/inheritance-funding-purchase-assignment-her-probate-trust/.

[ii] Probate Lending, supra. Professors Horton and Chandrasekher, supra.  Article entitled ‘Probate Lending’.

[iii]  In many instances an executor or proposed administrator who is a family member cannot qualify for a bond.

[iv] IFC has been providing cash advances in the field for over 25 years.

[v] The Assignments included a negotiated provision for early payoff rebates which reduced the assigned amounts to $140,000.00 and $166,000.00 if paid off within 12 and 24 months respectively.

[vi] Marsha Tanner and Katherine Tanner each received advances in consideration of a $41,000.00 assignment and a lesser amount with early payoff rebates.

[vii] Helen Tanner’s net distributive share was $661,532.00, less IFC’s Assignment, and an unrelated promissory note she owed to estate.

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Legal-Bay Pre-Settlement Funding Announces Funding for Fireworks Injuries and Building Explosions

By Harry Moran |

Legal-Bay LLC, the premier Pre Settlement Funding Company, reports that they are seeing an uptick in lawsuits against negligent pyrotechnicians and residential homeowners in the wake of the 4th of July holiday. Fireworks injuries and property damages join the escalating lawsuits that have been filed due to building explosions at gas stations, chemical plants, and oil refineries, falling under such categories as worker's comp, premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, and beyond.  

Explosion lawsuits are filed more often than one would think. Whether in a place of business or a residential property, danger lurks for victims of others' negligence. Accidental gas leaks or faulty propane tanks are probably the most well-known type of house or building explosion, but sometimes, negligent installation by inexperienced workers or business owners looking to cut corners can lead to disaster. Likewise, if a person is injured or their property is damaged by fireworks—whether from a professional show or a neighbor's backyard—they are entitled to compensation.

Explosion payouts obviously vary depending on the severity of the damage caused and extent of injuries. Just last year, for example, a New Jersey man who suffered severe burns from an explosion while working on an electrical panel in 2019 sued his employer for gross negligence. The man was instructed to work on the electric panel even though he was not a licensed electrician. The resulting explosion inflicted burns over half of his body, requiring over 100 surgeries and a lifetime of future care. He was awarded $28MM for pain, suffering, and loss of ability to earn a salary.

Chris Janish, CEO of Legal-Bay, commented, "Extreme explosions can result in chemical burns, broken bones, and sometimes even death, not to mention the environmental impact and property damage that can occur. Legal Bay stands at the ready to assist victims of any type of explosion get the money they have coming to them."If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an explosion, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. To apply for a cash advance lawsuit loan from your anticipated lawsuit settlement, please visit the company's website HERE or call 877.571.0405 where agents are standing by to hear about your specific case. 

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Legal-Bay Lawsuit Funding Announces Increased Commitment to Product Liability Funding

By John Freund |

Legal-Bay LLC, The Lawsuit Pre Settlement Funding Company, announced today their newfound focus on product liability claims for plaintiffs and lawyers involved in ongoing mass tort litigations. Due to increasing product liability lawsuit loan requests, Legal-Bay has committed more capital to secure even more specialized lawsuit funding for the law firms and plaintiffs out there with product liability cases due to their complex and time-consuming nature.

Legal-Bay's knowledge of product liability lawsuits and experience with mass tort litigations for various products and defective products makes them the leading lawsuit funding firm to call for a complex product defect case involving defective products or product rejection. This experience, as well as Legal-Bay's overall capital, gives them the reputation of the best lawsuit funding firm that exists today.

The lawsuit loan company's team of experts studies each national litigation, often leading the legal funding industry on which cases to begin funding. Many other lawsuit loan companies and lawsuit cash advance places and loan companies do not fund these types of cases due to the complex and time-consuming nature. However, this is just part of why Legal-Bay remains so committed to helping people who have suffered as a result of a defective surgical product or medical device gone wrong, including those that migrate in the body or cause other long-term damage.

If you are wondering what to do when a large corporation will fight your case or if a large corporation or company is fighting your claim, don't hesitate to contact Legal-Bay today. To learn more about product liability lawsuit funding, product liability lawsuit claim loans, product liability lawsuit money, or defective product settlement funding amounts, please visit our new product liability funding site, at: https://lawsuitssettlementfunding.com/product-liability.php 

Currently, Legal-Bay is expanding their product liability wing as they review various product liability cases and product liability class action suits with national law firms for legal funding options.

Below is a list of just some of the product liability mass tort cases that Legal-Bay's team is actively monitoring or has funded in the past:

  • IVC Filter
  • Hernia Mesh
  • Exactech Implant Recall
  • Hip Implants
  • Knee Implants
  • CPAP Recall
  • Birth Control
  • JUUL E-Cigarettes
  • J&J Talc Products
  • Round Up Weed Killer
  • Medical Devices
  • 3M Ear Plugs
  • Paraquat
  • Just For Men Hair Products
  • Chemical Hair Straightener Products
  • Essure Birth Control IUD
  • Permanent Makeup Claim
  • Eyebrow Tint Claim
  • Essure Birth Control IUD
  • Allergen or Saline or Silicone Breast Implants

Legal-Bay is currently reviewing and assessing case worth or proposed settlement amounts for many other bad products or defective products not listed above.

Chris Janish, CEO commented on today's announcement, "Legal-Bay has been built on product liability funding.  We are the leading and best mass tort funding company in the country, in my sincere opinion.  We work with the top lawyers on each specific litigation, and see cases and litigations from start to finish.  We are a guiding light for many victims who may need guidance on a product liability attorney to choose, and funding for surgical needs due to defective product or legal funding just to pay bills.  We do it all and take substantial risk—unlike most other litigation finance companies—to help our clients and law firms alike." 

To learn more, or to receive a free case evaluation on your bad product claim or defective product suit claim, or if you are looking for a product liability lawyer or product liability law firm please visit Legal-Bay's new website built for these types of claims at: https://lawsuitssettlementfunding.com/product-liability.php 

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Level Acquires Tower Street Finance to Target Probate Lending Sector

By John Freund |

An article in ETF Express covers the announcement from Level, a family law and private client lender, that it has acquired Tower Street Finance in order to expand its presence in the probate lending sector. Level’s acquisition strategy is reportedly being guided by the growth in activity around probate lending, which is being fuelled by processing delays and individuals’ demand for third-party capital amid a difficult economic climate.

Commenting on the acquisition, Level’s founder and CEO, George Williamson said: “Tower Street Finance have been the standout market leader since pioneering the probate market in 2020, while Level has done the same in the family law market.  By combining Tower Street Finance’s unparalleled expertise and network in the probate market with our platform and trusted reputation, we have a significant advantage over our competitors.”

Jim Sission, co-founder of Tower Street Finance, will be joining Level alongside two of his employees. Sission said that the acquisition by Level brings together the two company’s expertise across family law and probate lending, and will create “a best-in-class platform for legal funding.”

In addition to the acquisition, Level also announced that it had secured another £10 million in outside investment, comprised of a £5 million equity capital investment from Kendal Capital and £5 million debt investment from Correlation Risk Partners. Kendal Capital’s CEO and co-founder, Grant Kurland will be joining Level’s board of advisers, which already includes notable industry names such as Neil Purslow, CIO of Therium Capital. Kurland said that “the combination of Level & TSF is well placed to capitalise on their respective market leading positions in the family and probate sectors.”