Handwritten Wills Found in Aretha Franklin’s Home Creates Tangled Legal Questions
Recent news articles state that there were handwritten Wills recently found in Aretha Franklin’s Detroit residence.
You know what they say about making assumptions… Whenever we meet with our estate planning and probate clients, one of the educational pieces we give them is The 9 Most Common Mistakes Executors Make. This article drives home mistake #1: Filing the Wrong Will.
It is always difficult to know the Will you have in your possession after your loved one’s passing is in fact the last Will. As we often tell our clients, the probate process is not a race.
When your loved one dies, you need to make sure that you conduct a diligent search of their home and paperwork. The State of Texas allows for a Last Will and Testament to be handwritten. This is called a “Holographic” Will. However, this type of a Will is not accepted in every State. In Texas, this Holographic Will must be entirely in the Testator’s handwriting and must be signed. Although it is not required in the State of Texas to be dated, it is highly recommended.
As we read this article, the headline says it all. Whenever you are dealing with formal Wills, meaning those that are prepared by an attorney, witnessed and notarized, and multiple Holographic Wills, it does create “tangled legal questions”. While we hope these newly found handwritten Wills of Aretha Franklin’s do not create family issues, more times than not, we find that these types of situations lead to possible Will contests, probate litigation, and family fights. Working closely with a qualified estate planning and probate attorney can possibly help avoid any potential family conflicts, litigation, and Will Contests.
If you find yourself in potential Will Contest situation, please schedule an appointment to discuss your options and educate yourself about the process and possible pitfalls. You can also read our article, The 9 Most Common Mistakes Executors Make.