<#if page.ID == "About"> In This Section
<#else> View Our Practice Areas

E-Z Legal Form Wasn't So Easy Afterall

In this case, Ms. Aldrich created her Will using an "E-Z Legal Form". In her Will, she specifically identified certain property to give to her sister and, if her sister didn't survive her, to her brother. At the time she executed her Will, these specific gifts covered all of her property. However, the E-Z Legal Form did not have a residuary clause for all other property not specifically gifted (which in Ms. Aldrich's case was all property acquired after the execution of her Will).

Wills are easy. Anyone can make one, right? Not so fast.

A recent article in Mondaq titled "Another Cautionary Tale About "Do It Yourself" Estate Planning" reported on the problems that can result when you try to be your own estate planning attorney. It seems Ms. Aldrich decided to make her will using an "E-Z Legal Form." In it, she specifically identified certain property to give to her sister and-if she didn't survive her-then it would go to her brother. When she executed her will, these specific gifts covered all of her property. Unfortunately, this E-Z Legal Form didn't have a residuary clause for any property that wasn't specifically gifted (which here was all property she acquired after the execution of her will).

After Ms. Aldrich executed her will, her sister died. She left Ms. Aldrich some real estate and cash, which weren't covered under the gift provisions of Ms. Aldrich's will. As a result, a dispute arose concerning who was to be the rightful owner of this property. The brother argued that he was entitled to the inherited property because he was the one named in Aldrich's will in the gift provisions if the sister predeceased her. Now enters two of Ms. Aldrich's nieces (the daughters of a deceased brother). The nieces contended that the inherited property should pass by way of intestacy and, if so, was theirs or at least some of it.

The Florida Supreme Court decided that Aldrich's intent-by merely examining the language of the will (which is the law in many states)-and held that, because she did not dispose of the remainder of the estate property in the will, it passed by the law of intestacy. So the nieces received a share of the estate, even though Ms. Aldrich never intended to give it to them.

Justice Barbara Pariente noted in her concurring opinion that the cost of litigating the case was much more than the expense of the E-Z Legal Form. The Justice said that "this case does remind me of the old adage 'penny-wise and pound-foolish.'"

Don't be foolish. Speak with your estate planning attorney and don't think that it's as easy as it was for Ms. Aldrich!

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Find Out The Difference That Experience And Expertise Makes

Get the peace of mind that you deserve. First, attend a seminar. This will entitle you to a free initial consultation and a discounted estate planning fee. To learn more about our services or sign up for a seminar, contact us online or call us at 866-402-1805. We have offices in Torrance, Orange, Newport Beach, Pasadena and Woodland Hills.

Questions? Contact Us.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Call Now For A Free Consultation: 866-402-1805
  • ${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
  • Main Office: Torrance

    Torrance Office
    990 West 190th Street
    Suite 500
    Torrance, CA 90502

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Orange Office
    333 City Boulevard West
    17th Floor
    Orange, CA 92660

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Newport Beach Office
    5000 Birch Street
    Suite 8000
    Newport Beach, CA 92660

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Pasadena Office
    790 East Colorado Boulevard
    9th Floor
    Pasadena, CA 91101

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Woodland Hills Office
    5850 Canoga Avenue
    4th Floor
    Woodland Hills, CA 91367

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Office map