After many years, legal fees, familial strife, and much wrangling, “a six-person jury decided after less than an hour of deliberation that a four-page document written…and discovered under a couch cushion at her home, months after [her] death — should serve as her will.”
Is this how you want a determination made on how your assets get distributed and by whom?
The above quotation applies to the estate of Aretha Franklin. The “Queen of Soul” died in 2018 and it was initially believed she had not left any will. Her sons were able to come to “unanimous” determinations about “who” should handle their mother’s estate and the State of Michigan determined “how” under its intestacy (no will) laws (equally among all her sons).
In 2019, two handwritten wills were discovered with markedly differing distribution provisions (not equally among her sons) – no unanimity among her children – and it’s been a legal struggle since. Both were handwritten (holographic – NOTE holographic Wills are not “valid” in Massachusetts).
There are lots of “tools” out there that make it sound like “DIY” estate planning documents are the way to go. It’s a risk…did you observe the correct signing procedures, does your math add up to 100% (or more or less – I’ve seen both happen), do your fiduciaries have the proper powers to do everything they’ll need to do to effectively and efficiently administer your assets?
Any error or unclear provision in your documents may send your estate to court resulting in strangers deciding how your assets get distributed, with the costs borne by the estate (less for your beneficiaries) and may leave lasting emotional damage to familial relationships.https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/11/arts/music/aretha-franklin-will-couch.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare: Are These REALLY Your Wishes – Who Decides? – “You Better Think, Think…”