Check out this blog post, E-Zer Said than Done: Court Considers Will Prepared With Commercially Available Form about a decision issued last week by the Florida Supreme Court ruling the nieces of a deceased woman who were not named in her will, shall inherit from her estate. The will, which the decedent drafted in 2004 using an E-Z Form, left specified property to her sister, followed by her brother, but the will did not dispose of the residuary estate (everything that isn’t specified). The will was not reviewed by an attorney. Her sister passed leaving the decedent the sister’s assets, and leaving the brother the sole living sibling.
The Court ruled that the brother would receive what was specifically listed in the will, but everything else (the residuary) would be distributed as though the decedent had died without a will. Therefore, her two nieces (the children of a deceased brother) received a share of the residual estate, which included the assets the decedent received from her sister.
The Court’s ruling does not seem to follow the intent of the decedent, but it does follow statutory law. Statutory law clearly determines how assets are distributed in Florida and most other states.
This recent Florida Supreme Court ruling is a reminder that while we are living in an automated world, where the internet has answers and a form for everything, the answers may not be correct. The review of a will by an estate planning attorney ensures an individual’s intent is met, and not just the statutory law.