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Old 03-28-2016, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Was talking with a friend last night and he mentioned his extended family has been quarreling over his father's estate since he unexpectedly died two years ago without leaving any will or directives whatsoever.

This got me wondering, Hypothetically, What if someone dies without a legal notarized will, but has written directives on paper kept in a file, could that be considered better than leaving no directive at all, and would the written directives be legally honored? (Assuming of course that the informal directives weren't plagiarized by an acquaintance of the deceased. Yes I realize that's why legal wills are strongly advised.)

Keeping it simple, I for one don't own anything of value whatsoever, so I told my friend that if he ever happens to be the only one close to me when I die, just donate my stuff to Goodwill and use my military DD-214 to get me a free burial/cremation/whatever.

Can informal directives be honored? Or does everyone need a will?

I suppose people with any estate and valuable items would be wise to update a legal will every year or so. But if they weren't prepared and died young & unexpectedly, but had verbally told a friend their directives or informally wrote it on paper, would it be better than nothing? Especially if the directives were realistic, and not favoring the messenger over anyone else?
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:36 PM
 
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it may not be recognized by probate court if anything has to go through it or anything is contested . wills have very specific language and terms to meet various state requirements . .

but you may need other documents too like power of attorney
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107 View Post
it may not be recognized by probate court if anything has to go through it or anything is contested . wills have very specific language and terms to meet various state requirements . .

but you may need other documents too like power of attorney
If a probate court won't recognize it, but that's the only directive that exists, do you suppose they'd just put everything up for auction irrespective of the decedent's wishes?
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zelpha View Post
Was talking with a friend last night and he mentioned his extended family has been quarreling over his father's estate since he unexpectedly died two years ago without leaving any will or directives whatsoever.
A shining example of why you should go ahead and do a formal will.
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:50 PM
 
Location: NC Piedmont
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107 View Post
it may not be recognized by probate court if anything has to go through it or anything is contested . wills have very specific language and terms to meet various state requirements . .

but you may need other documents too like power of attorney
With all due respect, over 90% of such documents are recognized and generally speaking, you know if you are in other 10%. It isn't just a little better than nothing; it is way better. But it is no guarantee. If there is even a slight chance your estate will be contested, you should absolutely have a will drawn up.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:07 PM
 
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90% ??????? nope , only 50% of the states accept holographic wills which is what this called .

States That Permit Holographic Wills

Roughly half of the states recognize holographic wills and will admit a holographic will to probate. While the number of witnesses varies, the admission of a holographic will to probate requires disinterested witnesses to testify that a holographic will is in the handwriting of the testator. As of November 2010, the states that permit holographic wills to probate include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

States Where Holographic Wills Are Legal | LegalZoom: Legal Info
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
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Even a holographic (written) will buried in a drawer has meaning in most Probate Courts. The intent of the Testator, the person who writes the will, is all that matters. The Court would rather have that than nothing and will use that as the last will and testament in some cases.

You don't have to have it notarized but it's a good idea. It gives it more weight. Don't bother with an attorney just go to a Notary Public if you don't have a complicated will with a lot of valuables and property to divide up amongst your heirs. You can find simple forms online. If it is legal in your state, you can even go to a paralegal run office to get forms. They can guide you but cannot give you legal advice.

Whatever you do, do not rely on verbal promises to people as to what you want them to have or how to direct your wishes. If you specifically want to exclude someone from any bequests, be sure to mention it in your will because otherwise they can contest it saying you "just forgot" to mention them. That's when they wind up with that antique silverware you did not want them to have.

I should tell you my experience comes from having a paralegal degree and working in a Probate Court as a clerk for a year. I saw a whole lot of misguided people who came to us with a lot of misconceptions. We were always happy to give accurate non specific advice. So when in doubt, take a trip to your local courthouse to get the real scoop.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:07 PM
 
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If you're a Veteran, yes, you are entitled to burial at a National cemetery but the procedure is a whole lot more involved than that and may include lots of extra costs to have it done.

https://www.funerals.org/frequently-...urial-benefits

Seriously everyone, as this topic of wills, burials comes up frequently please have your wishes and finances organized well beforehand.

As for someone's wishes written on a piece of paper in a file cabinet, that's totally he said/she said. Without witnesses and notarizing, not likely a court would recognize it.

If you don't have a lot of possessions, property or money for attorneys, there are plenty of sample wills online. Just print one, fill it out. Take it with you to places that have notaries on hand ---- a bank, town or city hall, a local senior center, etc. They will borrow a person or two to be a witness and notarize it.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:10 PM
 
6,744 posts, read 3,851,875 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zelpha View Post
If a probate court won't recognize it, but that's the only directive that exists, do you suppose they'd just put everything up for auction irrespective of the decedent's wishes?
I don't see any reason why it would go to probate. We've had several family members pass without anything written re their few belongings, and the family just took care of it themselves. One aunt owned a little mobile home, and her kids just got a death certificate and sold it with no problem whatsoever. There could be a problem with bank accounts though if there wasn't anyone else on the account and the person had no designated heir on the account. Probate lawyers take 1/3 of estates they handle, so it behooves us all to do what we can to keep as much as possible out of probate.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:12 PM
 
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depends what is being passed . personal stuff is no problem nor is anything with a tod , quick claim deed or beneficiary .

but a car , house , boat etc may go through probate in many states . . anything without a beneficiary can be a problem without a proper will and power of attorney .
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