Real Time Web Analytics

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't leave your "real" wishes separately from your will

Annie made a will leaving her estate to her five children in equal shares. When Annie died, the child who was named as executor began the process of probating the will.

The family fighting began almost immediately after Annie's death. Why? Because Annie had told her family that what she "really" wanted done with her estate was different from what was in her will. Verbally, she directed that specific assets be divided among certain people, some of whom were not her children.  She then made matters even more complicated by transferring her home into joint names with two of the children even though the will directed that the home be sold and the money divided among all five children.

This kind of thing happens more often than it should, to the detriment of the children left coping with the mess. I've seen two examples of it just this week alone. Parents leave their children verbal instructions that are different from the will, placing the executor in an impossible situation. The executor is legally bound to follow the will, but morally wants to follow what they believe to be the parent's "real" wishes. The will is legally valid; the verbal instructions are not, but carry moral weight.

The siblings then take sides. Accusations are made. Chaos ensues. The estate is delayed and often ends up in court.

If you change your mind about what's in your will, then change your will. This is a must. It is simply unfair and unreasonable (not to mention illogical) to leave a valid will and at the same time leave contradictory verbal instructions. You might as well toss your lighted cigarette into a barrel of gunpowder.

I believe people do this because they have faith that their children will figure it out and do what the parent "really" wants. But even children who want to follow the parent's "real" wishes can't usually do so because they are bound by the will. The children can't ignore the law, or a valid will.

I don't believe parents have any idea of the pain and inconvenience they put upon their children when they contradict their own wills with verbal instructions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like

Related Posts with Thumbnails