Is Your Lawyer an Expert in Estate Law?
This may surprise you: Not every will is valid.
A common question I receive is: Why bother making wills if judges can cancel them? Well, not making a valid will can be the biggest blunder you can make. The trick is to have a legal will.
But don’t stop reading. Wait ‘til you read the conclusion of this shocking story.
I wrote a free report, How to Avoid the Worst Financial Blunder You Can Make When Preparing Your Will. It explains how wills protect your family and your money. Bad wills can waste your money and destroy your family. I’ll tell you how to get your free copy at the end.
Making Wills During the COVID-19 Crisis
What does a contested will cost your loved ones? You’ll know by the time you finish reading this post.
Your thinking about Wills may be wrong. You may think anything you write down and sign is a legal will. But wills may not be accepted by your relatives or courts as legally valid. Wills are legal documents that must comply with legal standards. Do you know what those standards are?
Does your lawyer know the legal standard for wills?
Your will may not be valid. That makes it unenforceable and not legally binding. An example of this happened in the Graham case.
In a court decision released June 11, 2019, Madam Justice Sheard upheld challenges to a lawyer-prepared will in Graham v. Graham. As a result, the will was not valid. The court noted there were irregularities in the preparation of the will.
The lesson from this case may give you second thoughts. Don’t wait until you are in the hospital to start thinking about your will. Make sure you hire the right person to prepare your will. This can be especially important if you have health issues. Remember, not all lawyers are experienced in preparing or defending wills.
Who has to prove wills are valid?
Here are some undisputed facts in the Graham case involving a mother’s will:
- Father and mother had four children
- The father died after a long in illness in October 2015
- The mother, Jackie, developed terminal cancer and she delayed surgery
- Jackie did not take pain medication because it her made her head foggy
- She was given pain medication and directed to palliative care
- She had a pain crisis and entered hospital on December 22, 2015
- A son and his wife searched for lawyers to make Jackie’s will
- Jackie did not provide information to prepare her will
- The son requested a lawyer visit Jackie in the hospital
- Jackie never met the lawyer before she signed her will
- Jackie signed her will on December 23, 2015
- The lawyer kept no notes of the meeting
- By hospital records, the lawyer spent about 21 minutes with the mother
- Jackie’s will left everything to the son who arranged for the will
- No evidence confirmed Jackie read her will or it was read to her
- No evidence confirmed Jackie approved the will contents
- The lawyer had no evidence of Jackie’s testamentary capacity
- The will was signed under suspicious circumstances
- Jackie died January 8, 2016
- The son and beneficiary were involved in the preparation of the will
- The will was orchestrated by the son
- The son failed to prove the will was valid
The court concluded that the mother, Jackie, lacked capacity to sign legal documents. The court hearing took three days. The decision was released almost four years after the will was signed. The estate distribution was on hold until the court decided if the will was valid.
Who paid for these legal proceedings?
What did this will dispute cost in dollars?
The person challenging the will spent over $79,000 in legal costs. The son who lost the case was required to reimburse the will challenger. He was ordered to pay the challenger and winner over $54,000. He also had to pay his own lawyer’s legal fees. Jackie’s estate had to pay the balance of the challenger’s legal costs of almost $24,000.
Your loved ones can suffer similar emotional and financial pain. Take the time now to ensure your will is valid. Download my free report How to Avoid the Worst Financial Blunder You Can Make When Preparing Your Will. It is easy to read and understand.Download Free ReportEstates, Wills On: July 29th, 2020