Today I found an article on where an individual purchase a preprinted will form and filled in the blank space incorrectly. He hand wrote:
My shares of Lee Bros. Holding Co. My property of 817 North Park St., Victoria, B.C. and 35% of cash & bonds to my brother Horace. 35% to my sister Estelle of cash & bonds. 35% divided evenly for my sisters Elsie, Edythe, Effie and my brothers Harold & Henry of cash & bonds.
A few months later Mr. Henry Lee died with over $2,600,000 in assets. Apparently the will was witnessed prior to the blank being filled in and this did not meed with the formal requirements of a will.
The Rule of Law has an extensive review of this case.
In the final ruling the Judge said:
Hubert’s contributing action was his honest, but ill-advised decision, to use a store-bought form will without involving a lawyer. Horace’s contributing action was his bad faith and fraudulent behaviour.
After two trials and many years each party had to pay their own legal fees. This all could have been avoided if a lawyer was used. I am not sure why someone with $2.6 Million dollars in their estate would have used a preprinted will form or a software program to generate a will.
The moral of the story: Online wills are only forms. Even if they imply that a lawyer created them, a lawyer is not looking at your documents or your assets when you make decisions. If you make the wrong decisions or follow the wrong procedures what will the cost to your estate be?
Some other examples of Do it your self wills and bad news are covered in my articles listed below
Do it Yourself Wills? More bad news and Do it Yourself Wills? a Good Idea or Not?
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 3
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 4
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 5
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 6
This is a common mistake found in Florida Probate cases, when people try to make their own wills, or transfer their assets without getting professional help from an attorney or accountant who is familiar with the effects of gifting and estate planning.
If you have used software, a form, or an online service to prepare your will, you should have it reviewed by a Florida Estate planning Attorney for potential problems.