Act Sooner To Get A Will
ACT SOONER THAN LATER TO GET A WILL, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE DISABLED BENEFICIARIES:
A woman has advanced lung cancer and asks her financial planner to contact an attorney to meet with her regarding her estate planning documents. Timothy Rice meets with the woman at the hospital that evening and discusses the appropriate documents – a will, durable power of attorney and advance medical directive, and obtains information from the woman to customize those documents to meet her intentions. The woman has two sons, one of whom is disabled and receives Medicaid and SSI benefits. Mr. Rice suggests that her will include a Supplemental Benefits Trust for the benefit of her disabled son. Unfortunately, the woman’s medical condition deteriorates quickly, she is unable to meet with Mr. Rice the next day to execute her estate planning documents, and she passes away before she could execute her estate planning documents. The New Jersey probate laws provide that an unsigned will cannot be probated by the county Surrogate’s Office, and the proposed executor named in the unsigned will retained Mr. Rice to seek approval from the Probate Court to probate the will and create the Supplemental Benefits Trust. Although there are no published case decisions which permit the probate of unsigned wills, Mr. Rice successfully gained court approval of this probate application. The good news is that this woman’s intentions have been fulfilled. The bad news is that those intentions could have been fulfilled at much less cost if she had contacted an estate attorney such as Mr. Rice sooner than she did.