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Another Heartbreaking Story About DIY Documents

This story really touched me, so I want to share it and hope it can help someone avoid a similar mistake.

I received a call from a potential client. He told me his mother passed away and left her home to her disabled daughter, the caller’s sister. The called wanted me to assist with probate administration.

When I looked at the will, I discovered (to my horror) that while the will was signed and notarized, it was not signed by two witnesses. In Florida, lack of witnesses makes the will invalid, meaning the law will treat this situation as if the woman passed away without a will. In their situation, it means that all of the woman’s children receive an equal share of the house. There are six (!!) siblings, not everyone gets along, one of the siblings passed away after the mother did, which means that their children are now entitled to share the one-sixth of that home.

The house that is the subject of this story is not a mansion. If it is sold and proceeds are divided six ways, not a whole lot will go to the disabled child that the mother meant to take care of.

PLEASE hire an attorney to draft your will and to oversee its execution. The several hundred dollars that a will costs are certainly worth it, and if you happen to have a disabled individual in your family, please know that there are various tools available to ensure their financial wellbeing.

As a mother, I deeply feel for this family. This mother meant to take care of her most vulnerable child. We cannot prevent death, but we can prevent our loved ones from being in this kind of a heartbreaking situation.