The Dangers of DIY Estate Planning
by Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
Oklahoma law allows you to create your own estate plan. In fact, there is a law that lines out exactly what you need for a valid, holographic Will. Oklahoma courts honor “holographic” Wills that are entirely signed, dated, and written in the maker’s handwriting.
But, what many do-it-yourself planners don’t realize is that holographic Wills are subject to the same laws as Wills drafted by professionals. When you don’t follow the laws properly, you run the risk of having your wishes questioned or overruled.
A recent Oklahoma Supreme Court case highlights the dangers of DIY estate planning.
In the Matter of the Estate of Chester
In 2017, the Decedent wrote a one sentence holographic Will leaving everything to the Decedent’s grandson. He made no mention of any other family members. The Decedent died a few months later.
After his death, his daughter filed a petition for probate and was appointed the Personal Representative of his estate. Her appointment gave her authority to manage the estate.
Soon after, the grandson filed an objection to the appointment and presented the Will. He asked the Court to appoint him as Personal Representative and distribute his grandpa’s property according to the holographic Will.
The Court admitted the Will and appointed the daughter as Personal Representative. Soon, the Decedent’s son filed an objection. He asked the Court to recognize him as an heir of the estate that was unintentionally omitted.
The Court found that the Will met the requirements for a valid holographic Will under Oklahoma law. But ,there was a catch.
Under Oklahoma law, you cannot disinherit a direct heir unless you have language that expressly states you intend to disinherit that heir. If you do not add specific language disinheriting a direct heir and his or her descendants, those heirs can come in and claim an interest in your estate.
The grandfather’s holographic Will did not mention his children at all. Nor did the Will specifically disinherit them.
So, the Court found that not only the son who had petitioned the Court, but the daughter as well, were entitled to a share in the Decedent’s estate. They would share in the Estate as they would if the Decedent died without a Will.
Many people believe they can save money and time by making their own estate plans. However, there are many nuances to the law most people do not know. These rules could leave your loved ones battling over your estate in Court.
So, meeting with an attorney to prepare your estate plan is the best plan for everyone. Book an appointment online to make a plan that meets your goals and needs.