You have a Last Will and Testament, or so you think. Here are 5 situations when your best intentions fall flat:
- When it is not the Last Will and Testament
- When it doesn’t distribute your assets
- When it is not executed with “testamentary formalities” in accordance with the law
- When it can’t be located
- When the statute of limitations runs
If you don’t have your estate planning documents properly drafted and executed, you can end up with fatal flaws in the documents. I recently assisted a family with their father’s estate and upon reviewing the will, I realized that he had copied an old will and skipped a paragraph. The paragraph he skipped was the one that distributed his assets. More common is the document that is improperly executed. The family thought that perhaps the notary public knew how to execute the documents and would catch any mistakes. This was a false assumption.
If a will can’t be located or a previous document is located and assumed to be the last one, we have failed to accomplish our task. A copy of a will is not a will, and a previous document rarely expresses the intentions of the deceased. The fifth item on our admittedly limited list is the statute of limitations. Four years after a person dies, his/her will dies. We encourage you, read that implore and beg, to schedule an appointment to discuss an estate within a few weeks after a death. There are strategies and advice that may differ from that offered by well-meaning friends, bank employees, bridge partners, people in other jurisdictions, people who have been on the internet, etc. Mr. Bailey has a well-earned reputation for giving wise counsel in challenging times. Give us a call.