A Will with Unintended Consequences

A recent Florida court case illustrates what can result from a poorly drafted Will.  

The case describes how a woman wrote a Will using an “EZ-Legal Form.” Her Will contained a very specific list of her real estate and bank accounts and left that property to her sister and brother.  The Will did not contain what is known as a residuary clause, which states what happens to property not specifically listed in the Will.

The problem occurred when the woman’s sister died before her leaving the woman the sister’s land and cash.  The woman did not revise her Will after her sister’s death.  When the woman died her brother, as the sole beneficiary under her Will, claimed that property the woman inherited from their sister should be given to him even though it wasn’t listed in the Will.  

The woman’s nieces claimed that since the “EZ-Legal Form” did not contain a clause stating where property should go that was not specifically listed in the Will then the property the woman inherited from her sister should go to them.  Basically the nieces were claiming that the property the woman inherited from her sister should be treated as though the woman had no Will.  The court agreed with the nieces.

This case illustrates the risks of using a do-it-yourself Will.  The woman thought she was being very detailed and very careful. Unfortunately she did not understand some of the important elements that should be in every Will.

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