Is Your Will Clear?
A recent lawsuit in New York prompts the question: Is your will clear?
In this case (Matter of Estate of Fogel), the father, Abraham, left his entire estate to his oldest son, Mordecai, and disinherited two other children (a son, Nussin, and a daughter, Kayla). The disinherited Nussin tried to make a claim on the father’s estate, based on a promise by Mordecai to share the inheritance equally. However, the court denied the claim, saying it was a personal commitment of the older brother and not applicable to probate proceedings.
An interesting twist was the fact that Kayla had previously tried to claim some of the inheritance and Nussin had testified in those proceedings in favor of his father’s will which cut them both out. So, when he later tried to make a claim, the court cited his previous support of the will.
Nussin did have some proof that his brother promised to share the estate and that his father supported the plan as a way to allow him (the father) to not single out Kayla in the will as the only child to be disinherited. Still, the court relied on the will alone.
We draft wills for hundreds of clients and we spend a lot of time with them to make sure their wishes are clear. In this case, we will never know what Abraham really intended to happen. Ideally, if he wanted his sons to inherit and his daughter to be disinherited, he should have said so in his will. Perhaps Kayla had an elaborate and expensive wedding, perhaps she married well, perhaps she was a bum. By explaining his plans for her, he could have included Nussin, if that was his intent.
A qualified estate planning attorney can help you draft a will that clearly spells out what will happen with your estate as well as who gets the sentimental things like doll collections and favorite art, which cause the most family squabbles.
Give us a call today, to review your estate plan and update your will. 302-651-0113.