When a person passes away and leaves a will as part of his or her estate plan, the will may leave the administrators of the estate plan or executor of the will any number of instructions on how to execute that person’s wishes. However, wills are not “magical” documents that allow those who create them to skirt the law. Rather, when a will conflicts with the law, the law takes precedence.
There are number of common conflicts that arise in wills created by individuals unclear on the limitations of will’s authority. These may include
- disinheriting a dependent child
- disinheriting a dependent spouse
- disinheriting an nonconsenting spouse
- instructions to commit some specifically illegal act
Depending on the scale of the conflict and the nature of the estate, wills that run into conflicts of limitation may resolve in a number of ways. In most cases, these conflicts do not completely dismantle the wishes of the will creator, but simply complicate matters unnecessarily and draw out the process of administering the will creator’s estate. This may deprive beneficiaries of the will from receiving their portions of the estate, and may significantly drain the resources within the estate itself, often compromising the wishes of the creator.
If you are unclear on the legality of your own wishes for your estate, be sure to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your plans and the legacy you want to leave when it is your time to pass on. Professional legal counsel ensures that you understand the scope of the legal issues at hand and helps you craft a document that truly represent your wishes within the boundaries of estate planning law.
Source: Findlaw, “Estate Administration: The Will After Death,” accessed Dec. 29, 2017