Welcome to the fifth in a series of Probate Horror Stories, courtesy of Brown & Crona, LLC. Last month the topic focused on the fallout from appointing a bad executor for your estate. This month’s topic focuses on the proper way to write a will.
Fictional Situation: George
- 81-year-old male
- 2 adult children: in contact with his son; estranged from his daughter
- Owns a home, a car, rental property and a recreational vehicle
- Wrote a will in secret without anyone knowing about it
George had good intentions when he created his will. Because he was divorced and had not remarried, he wanted all of his assets left to his son. Due to a fallout with his daughter years ago, he did not want any of his assets to go to her and her family. George typed up his wishes, used a pen to cross out and replace certain wording and felt that was sufficient. He left his will in a prominent location in his home so it could be easily found.
Regardless of his good intentions, George failed to do several things with his will:
- He did not have the will witnessed, signed and dated. In Colorado, the law requires that a will be witnessed and signed by at least 2 people to make it valid.
- Witnesses did not watch George sign and date his will.
- Because the will was both handwritten and typed, the will’s validity was questionable.
Because of these important oversights, when George passed away and after costly litigation, his will was deemed invalid and the courts made the decision to equally split his estate between his two surviving children. Even though George did not want his daughter to receive any inheritance, because there was no valid will, his wishes were not honored.
The very best way to know if you are drafting an estate planning document that will stand up in court is by hiring a professional. The Denver estate planning attorneys at Brown & Crona, LLC have extensive experience in helping people with all sizes of estates create the right document for maximum protection. To learn more or to hire a Denver estate planning lawyer, please contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online.
Watch for our blog next month for the next installment in our Probate Horror Story Series.