WHY DRAFTING YOUR OWN WILL ON THE INTERNET MAY HURT YOUR INTENDED HEIRS
All too often, people with good intentions make an attempt to draft their own will or will substitute. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to disastrous results and the inheritance goes to the wrong heirs. Below are a few hypotheticals showing what can go wrong when one tries to draft their own will or dies without one:
Example 1: John has two children: Anne and Beth. Anne is independently wealthy and John wants to provide the majority of his estate to go to his daughter Beth. John decides to type his Will himself and has Beth and a neighbor act as witnesses to the Will. Under Kentucky and Ohio law, since Beth is an heir who witnessed the Will, the Will is valid because it had two witnesses. However, now Beth cannot inherit more than she would take as if he died without a will as she was an interested witness. Unfortunately for John, the entirety of his estate will instead be divided as if he died without a will and the assets will be divided equally among Anne and Beth, despite his wishes.
Example 2: John is currently married to Jane. However, they are separated with no desire to reconcile their relationship, although they never actually divorced. John has two natural children from a previous marriage: Anne and Beth. Intending his assets to go only to his two natural children at the time of his death, John drafts his will and specifically leaves all of his estate to them. Unfortunately for John, once he passes away, under Kentucky and Ohio law, his estranged spouse Jane can take against his will and claim a sizable portion of his assets. Even though she was not listed in the will, she can inherit her spousal share. John’s natural children will not receive all of his assets.
Example 3: John drafted his own will several years ago with very specific intentions for distributing certain property to family and non-family individuals. upon his death. John has recently passed away and no one is able to locate his will or a copy of it. As a result, John’s estate will be administered in probate. Under the laws of intestacy, the estate assets will go to his family tree as determined under Ohio and Kentucky laws. John’s true wishes will never be fulfilled, and the non-family members including his live-in partner would receive nothing.
Example 4: John is married to Jane. Each have two children from a prior marriage. Jane passed away before John. Having become very close to his stepchildren, John intends to give them and his natural children each an equal share of his estate upon death. John sadly passed away at age 45. He never had a will drafted as he felt he was still young and had plenty of time left to do so. Even though he did not have a Will, he believed his assets would be divided equally amongst his children and step children. Unfortunately for John, this resulted in the entirety of the estate being inherited by his natural children, and his stepchildren receiving nothing.
In each of these hypotheticals, John’s mistakes could have been prevented by consulting an experienced attorney. Bill Hesch and the attorneys of William E. Hesch Law Firm have years of experience in assisting in estate and financial planning. For more information about how to plan your estate and have a professional Will or Trust drafted to properly ensure your wishes are met, call Bill Hesch to set up a free consultation at 513-509-7829.
(Legal Disclaimer: William E. Hesch submits this blog to provide general information about the firm and its services. Information in this blog is not intended as legal advice, and any person receiving information on this page should not act on it without consulting professional legal counsel. While at times Bill Hesch may render an opinion, Bill Hesch does not offer legal advice through this blog. Bill Hesch does not enter into an attorney-client relationship with any online reader via online contact.).