Aug 132015
 

When clients visit our office to discuss the prospect of having a will drafted, the topic of online legal services often arise. Clients want to know if the cost savings are worth it. Sure, it costs less to use a document created by a website, but is it truly worth it?

The 2014 Florida Supreme Court case, Aldrich v. Basile, provides a cautionary tale. In 2004, Ann Aldrich drafted her will with an “E-Z Legal Form.” After her intended beneficiary predeceased her (and left all of her assets to Ann), she attempted to add an addendum to her will, leaving everything to her brother. The pre-made will contained no other distributive provisions. The Court found that Ann’s two nieces were entitled to inherit property that Ann received after making her original Will. This was more than likely, not the intention of Ann, as she did not mention her nieces in her Will.

The 2014 Florida Supreme Court case, Aldrich v. Basile, provides a cautionary tale. In 2004, Ann Aldrich drafted her will with an “E-Z Legal Form.” After her intended beneficiary predeceased her (and left all of her assets to Ann), she attempted to add an addendum to her will, leaving everything to her brother. The pre-made will contained no other distributive provisions. The Court found that Ann’s two nieces were entitled to inherit property that Ann received after making her original Will. This was more than likely, not the intention of Ann, as she did not mention her nieces in her Will.

The problem? The online form lacked a residuary clause to dispose of the additional assets acquired, so her nieces were entitled to inherit a sizeable part of her estate. Justice Barbara Pariente wrote in her concurring opinion, “this case does remind me of the old adage Penny-wise and pound-foolish.” She further issued a word of caution regarding the potential dangers of doing a will without legal advice: “I therefore take this opportunity to highlight a cautionary tale of the potential dangers of utilizing pre-printed forms and drafting a will without legal assistance. As this case illustrates, that decision can ultimately result in the frustration of the testator’s intent, in addition to the payment of extensive attorney’s fees– the precise results the testator sought to avoid in the first place.”

This “E-Z” Will  not only frustrated Ms. Aldrich’s testamentary intent, but ultimately cost her estate far more than if she had a simple consultation with an estate planning attorney.  If you care who will receive your assets when you die, don’t make the same mistake. Speak with an attorney at Ourednik Law Offices today. Good legal advice and peace of mind are worth it!