Four Decades Of Legal Excellence

Why accurate, up-to-date estate plans are important

| Feb 20, 2020 | Estate Planning |

When Virginia residents think about the future, they may want to make plans for how their assets will be distributed after they pass away. By preparing a will or creating a trust, people can plan to leave their property to their loved ones. If people do not have a will, their belongings will be distributed in accordance with the state’s intestacy law. In an attempt to save money while creating an estate plan, some people may rely on forms in order to make a will on their own.

These documents may serve their purpose, but complications can also arise. In one case that reached the Florida Supreme Court, a woman used a do-it-yourself will form to leave her belongings to her sister and, if she died first, to her brother. While she carefully listed out all of her possessions at the time, including her account numbers and details for her banking, the will form did not contain a residuary clause. This type of clause manages the distribution of items that are not specified explicitly in the will.

The woman’s sister predeceased her, and she received a significant inheritance, including real estate. However, she did not update her will. As a result, when she passed away, two of her nieces received the real estate and other inheritance through state intestacy law. While her brother sued in court, he was unable to prevail due to the lack of a residuary clause. The legal dispute consumed a significant amount of time and money as well as disrupting family harmony.

While people are planning for the future, it is important for them to ensure their documents are accurate and up-to-date. An estate planning attorney may help people draft wills, trusts and other instruments to protect their assets.