In Lee County, and elsewhere, in order to be legally valid, either the will has to be witnessed being signed by at least two people or it must be hand-written by the person himself or herself. When, for one reason or another, these requirements are not met, or there are questions about the way they were met, it could lead to problems with probate and fulfilling the last wishes of the decedent.
A wealthy real estate developer in North Carolina was reportedly in the process of changing his estate plan when he unexpectedly passed away. According to reports, the man had decided to alter his original plan, which left the majority of his wealth to the real estate firm he founded, in order to establish a charitable trust and foundation. It was his desire that the trust be used by the foundation in order to give support to conservative causes. Although the documents had been drawn up, the man died before he was able to sign them.
The man’s sons, who were named as executors of his estate, have reportedly filed a lawsuit on behalf of their father’s estate against his company. They are requesting that the court honor their father’s intent to create the charitable foundation and trust administration. While a representative for the man’s company did recognize their knowledge of his intent to alter his estate plan and distribution of assets, he also indicated the company would not turn the assets over to his estate because the new plan was not legally valid.
Regardless of your situation, it may be of benefit to consult with an attorney to discuss your estate plan. A lawyer will be able to explain your options and advise you as to whether a trust might be a suitable route for you.
Source: Charlotte Observer, “Family of NC developer sues company over assets”, Oct. 22, 2013