Tag Archives: Will

UPDATE: Can an Intended (and Disappointed) Beneficiary Still Sue a Will’s Drafter?: The General Assembly of Virginia Enacts a Statutory Fix to the Thorsen Decision

Back in the summer I wrote a post discussing the impacts of the Thorsen decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia.  In Thorsen, a testator wanted to leave her estate to a charity if her daughter did not survive her.  The lawyer erred in drafting the will.  When the testator died several years later (with her daughter having predeceased her), the testator’s property went to other people, contrary to her intentions.  The charity, the intended beneficiary, sued the lawyer, asserting breach of contract for legal services. Thorsen was notable in that it held that Virginia common law permits intended third …

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Posted in Court Opinions, General, Legal Terminology, New Laws, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on UPDATE: Can an Intended (and Disappointed) Beneficiary Still Sue a Will’s Drafter?: The General Assembly of Virginia Enacts a Statutory Fix to the Thorsen Decision

Changes To Elective Share Law in Virginia Will Lead To More Litigation

The Virginia General Assembly overhauled Virginia’s elective share statute this past year, and one of the big results will likely be an increase in litigation. My colleague Brett Herbert recently wrote a blog post summarizing some of the more significant changes in the elective share framework that go into effect on January 1, 2017 (that post can be accessed here). This post focuses on a specific change that adds a time requirement in which a surviving spouse asserting a claim for the elective share must file a lawsuit to determine the elective share. Under the prior Virginia law, when a surviving …

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Posted in Disinheriting Family Members, Elective share, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Changes To Elective Share Law in Virginia Will Lead To More Litigation

A Post-Mortem, Spousal Surprise: Can My Husband Write Me Out of His Will?

Imagine this potentially devastating situation.  Your spouse unexpectedly dies.  You find his will and discover, shockingly, that he left everything to his adult son (or his mistress)!  Is there anything you can do? This situation commonly arises when a husband and wife are separated but not yet divorced. Under Virginia law, a spouse possesses certain rights to what is known as the elective share.  Think of the elective share as a floor for a spouse’s inheritance.  It can be invoked even if the deceased spouse writes the surviving spouse out of his or her will. Under current law, a surviving …

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Do It Yourself Wills: Will They Lead to More Litigation?

Here’s my prediction: do it yourself wills, also referred to as “homemade wills” or “online wills” or “internet wills” (I’ll refer to them in this blog post as “DIY Wills”) will result in a significant (though not massive) increase in estate litigation, but society won’t see that spike for another decade or two. What are DIY Wills? The term encompasses wills that can be created by filling in blanks on a preexisting template, usually found online. A variety of companies offer such a service for a price that is somewhat significantly reduced compared to what an estate planning attorney would …

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Posted in Preventing Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Do It Yourself Wills: Will They Lead to More Litigation?

Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse (and Traits of Elder Abusers)

My goal in this blog post is to discuss character traits of elder abusers so that you can recognize them and hopefully protect yourself, your family, and your friends. I’ve handled over 100 estate disputes, and in a sizeable number of those cases, elder abusers committed an array of unethical actions including isolating, threatening, and pressuring elderly people to change their estate plans. I previously wrote a lengthy blog post that discussed the signs of undue influence of elders. That blog post can be found by clicking here. By contrast, this blog post focuses on the character traits of elder abusers. …

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Risks to Estate Planning Attorneys in Light of the Thorsen Case

There are several things that all estate planning attorneys (and those who advise them) need to be aware of in light of the Virginia Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Thorsen v. Richmond Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals, No. 150528, 2016 WL 3131004 (Va. 2016). My colleague Brett Herbert provided a helpful summary of the Court’s ruling in Thorsen in a prior blog post, which can be accessed here. This post shares some tips on how estate planning attorneys can attempt to minimize their legal exposure in light of the Thorsen ruling. Estate planning attorneys would be wise to insert into …

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Unfulfilled Expectations: May an Intended (and Disappointed) Beneficiary Sue a Will’s Drafter?

Imagine the following scenario.  Your elderly mother, your only surviving parent, wants to have a discussion with you about her estate plan.  She shows you her will and explains her intentions.  You look at the will and it seems to make sense.  She tells you she is leaving her estate to you upon her death.  She even provides you with a copy of her will and tells you where the original is.  You feel peace of mind knowing that your mother’s estate is (or should) be in order. A short time later, your mother dies.  You have no idea what …

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Top 10 Ways To Be Disinherited (And How To Avoid That) (Part 2)

This is Part 2 in the series of the top 10 factors that I’ve seen that lead to people being disinherited from a relative’s or friend’s estate plan. In Part 1, I discussed 5 of the 10 factors, and the following round out the final 5 factors. Knowing these factors will hopefully help ensure that you not only avoid being disinherited, but perhaps, more importantly, help ensure that you have deeper and more meaningful relationships with family and friends: 6) File a Guardianship and Conservatorship Action Against a Relative There are two main reasons why a person would file a …

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Top 10 Ways To Be Disinherited (And How To Avoid That) (Part 1)

I’ve handled over 100 estate disputes, and based upon my experience the following are 5 of the top 10 factors that I’ve seen that lead to people being disinherited from a relative’s or friend’s estate plan. I’ll follow this blog post with another one in the next week or two discussing the final 5 factors. Knowing these factors will hopefully help ensure that you not only avoid being disinherited, but perhaps, more importantly, help ensure that you have deeper and more meaningful relationships with family and friends: 1) Don’t Visit or Call Your Relative This is far and away the …

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Virginia Supreme Court Issues New Ruling Regarding Missing Wills

The Virginia Supreme Court recently issued a ruling relating to missing wills and the legal standard courts must apply when an original will cannot be found and therefore an executor seeks to probate a copy of the will. While the case does not necessarily make new law, it does clarify that the proponent of the non-original will is not required to prove why the original will was lost. First, some background: under Virginia law, a party seeking to probate a will must probate the original will, and not a photocopy. In the vast majority of instances, this does not pose …

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