“I leave everything I own to my grandson.”
The above statement seems to leave no room for confusion. Whomever wrote it seemingly wished to leave his belongings to his grandchild, and no one else. But one court thought differently earlier this year. The case underscores the importance of having a will professionally drafted to ensure your final wishes will be respected.
Holographic Wills Can Have Large Consequences
In the case, a man left behind a one-line statement very similar to the one above. After his death, his grandson began the legal process of filing the statement, which the man had titled, “Last Will,” so that his grandfather’s estate could be distributed to him. But the man’s daughter had another idea. She decided to contest the will, arguing that it was invalid and sought to take advantage of the state’s intestacy laws. Under intestacy law, which applies in Texas, when someone dies without an enforceable will, their assets are distributed to relatives according to a formula without regard to any of the decedent’s preferences.
The high court ultimately ruled against the grandson, refusing to enforce the will. This was despite the fact that the grandson had a strong case. Specifically, to demonstrate that the will reflected his grandfather’s intentions, the grandson brought evidence showing that his grandfather had a tenuous relationship with his children, who had damaged his property in the past and had a pattern of being financially irresponsible.
Moreover, one of the man’s children had shot him. Yet, the man’s children will now presumably receive the entirety of his estate, while his grandson will receive nothing.
It goes without saying that the man’s will was not professionally drafted by an estate planning attorney. Had it been professionally drafted, the drafter would have known how to write it in such a way as to get it enforced.
For example, the apparent intention of the will was to “disinherit” the man’s children. To disinherit means to take steps to prevent someone who is otherwise due to inherit property under the law from inheriting that property. In order to disinherit someone through a will, the drafter must specifically name the person to be disinherited. In the case above, the will could not be enforced in part because it failed to mention the man’s children.
Trusts and estates lawyers are authorities in drafting wills. Working with an established firm can help to unfair prevent outcomes like the one above.
If You Lack a Professionally Drafted Will, Call Our Houston Firm Now
If you do not have a current, professionally drafted will, do not hesitate to contact the Houston estate planning law firm of McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, to ensure that your final wishes will be honored after your death. Our estates and trusts lawyers have several decades of experience in the field of wills. We are skilled in identifying assets, crafting tailored solutions for distribution, and ultimately drafting ironclad wills that provide peace of mind. Call us at 713-333-8900 to schedule a consultation at a time that is convenient for you.