Oftentimes people, for whatever reason, decide that they will plan their estates based upon what they hear from a neighbor, read in a newspaper or see on television. In our years of helping people properly plan their estates, we have encountered disastrous examples of “do-it-yourself” estate planning as well as Will drafting. Fortunately many of these disastrous plans were remedied before they went into effect. Unfortunately, other times the individual died and the plan was cast in concrete. Let me share one example from years ago of good intentions by a “do-it-yourselfer” that went awry.
Fred, in order to save the cost of having a properly drafted codicil to his Will decided to be his own lawyer and prepared his own codicil. By the way Fred had a very large estate, was never married and had three beloved brothers. Years before, Fred’s father died and left Fred a family heirloom watch that Fred wanted to pass on to his youngest brother. So Fred prepared and had properly witnessed a codicil leaving his youngest brother the watch and the balance of his estate to his brothers. Fred’s intention was to leave his brothers each 1/3 of his estate. Unfortunately the way Fred wrote the codicil his youngest brother received the watch (only) and the other two brothers shared Fred’s sizeable estate.
Planning your estate is not a do-it-yourself project. Be sure to get help from professionals, such as those at Garden State Trust. Remember- we even make house calls for those that are unable to visit us in our office.