An electronic will was accepted as valid, but at what cost to the heirs?
A Michigan man passes away and leaves behind, in lieu of a properly drafted will, a handwritten note that directs to a will that he wrote out on his cellphone. The man left his mother out of the will that he had written, and in fact, specifically wrote to not give anything to her. The mother contested her son’s will in court, claiming that it was not valid. Typically, in Michigan, a formal will requires the signature of 2 witnesses and the testator’s or to be written in the testator’s handwriting. The testator is the person whose belongings are being distributed by the will. There are exceptions to these rules in the state of Michigan, these are the grounds that the will was validated under.
Court, court and more court…
The trial court ruled that clear and convincing evidence was presented to show that the electronic document was intended to be the last will and testament of the deceased. After the will was ruled as valid in trial court, the mother appealed the decision. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that they see no error in the ruling made by the trial court. The circumstances surrounding the death of the deceased show intent that the deceased intended for the electronic note to constitute his will. Now whether the mother wants to accept this ruling or not, we shall see.
Court is expensive
Going through many rounds of litigation can be extremely costly. The court costs and attorney fees will eat into the amount of money that remains in the estate. This means that the money intended for the man’s heirs is now going to be far less than he intended. By having a properly drafted estate plan, you show clear intent and appoint who you would like to carry out your wishes. An estate plan could have avoided all of this litigation by clearly representing his wishes. The rounds of litigation also extend the amount of time before the heirs will receive what you have distributed to them.
Although in this case everything worked out as the deceased wished, that might not always be the case. If the will was ruled invalid, the mother would have been the rightful heir to everything that he owned. Don’t let your wishes be decided in a courtroom!
Call us today to setup your estate plan! Don’t leave your loved ones to spend time and money fighting over what you might have wanted.
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