By: Terry Bennett
Ms. X used an online legal form service to write her own will. She inventoried all of her property and left everything she owed to her sister. She also stated that she left all the listed property to her brother if her sister died before her. There was no “residuary clause” in the will. Ms. X’s sister predeceased her and after that Ms. X inherited a large estate from her sister. The property she inherited from her sister was not mentioned in the will. Ms. X then wrote a note that she put with the will stating that she wanted all of her possessions to go to her brother. Unfortunately, this handwritten note did not meet the requirements of a valid will.
Ms. X passed away and her two nieces challenged the will. They argued that everything Ms. X inherited from her sister should go to them because Ms. X’s will only talks about her possessions going to her brother prior to the time she had inherited a large estate from her sister. The Court ruled in the nieces’ favor.
The Florida Supreme Court went on to say that the cost of drafting a will with the use of a pre-printed form is likely cheaper than the cost of hiring a knowledgeable lawyer. The Court continued to say that unfortunately the ultimate cost of utilizing such a form can potentially be devastating and far exceed the cost of hiring a lawyer originally. The expense of litigation, having the estate tied up for years, as well as the fact that your property did not pass to whom you wanted it to, is very costly indeed. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike recommend you get legal advice when it comes to writing your will.
Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.
A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.