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The Pitfalls

The Pitfalls of “Do It Yourself” Forms and Services

In the information age, web-based legal services and downloadable commercial forms are readily available and popular among those who think they cannot afford an attorney or can do it themselves. While seemingly safe, there are hazards in utilizing such do-it-yourself forms and services which may end up costing more time, effort, and money in the long run. The Florida Supreme Court recently decided a case highlighting these issues in Aldrich v. Basile (SC11-2147).

In this case, a decedent had prepared a will using a commercially available form, devising (bequeathing) her specifically listed property to her sister. The will also be instructed that in the event her sister predeceased her the listed property would go to her brother instead. As it always seems to happen in these cases, the decedent’s sister did indeed die before the decedent, so the decedent’s property should have passed to her brother according to the will. Unfortunately, the decedent’s form will do not provide for what was to be done with property that was not listed in the will, which, in this case, included property the decedent had inherited from her sister when her sister died. Usually, well-drafted will contain a “residuary clause,” included precisely to deal with scenarios like this. Courts give great respect to the wishes of a decedent in their will, which is called “testamentary intent.” Courts will usually interpret a will so that all of the decedent’s property owned at the time of death passes to the beneficiaries of the will instead of leaving some property to pass through intestacy (being treated as if there was no will).

Nevertheless, the court found that the commercial form will be not written correctly to devise the decedent’s property that was not listed in the will and that property had to pass by intestacy to beneficiaries who were never even mentioned in the decedent’s will. There is little doubt that the use of the commercial form will destroy the decedent’s testamentary intent. To ensure your will properly represents your wishes, contact an experienced probate lawyer. Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to your final wishes in regards to your loved ones and assets, in Florida or internationally.

We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers, includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources, and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary. Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement.

Christian T. Fahrig; Carl Christian Thier to administer the estate in Florida, a petition must be filed with the court containing authenticated copies of the domiciliary administration as necessary to show the will, petition to probate the will, order admitting the will to probate, and the authority of the person acting as a personal representative. If no intention exists the petition should include authenticated copies of the domiciliary administration to the extent that they show the petition for administration and the authority of a personal representative. A decedent’s will may also be admitted to probate in

Florida if the will meets the requirements of Florida law. (Fla. Prob. Rule 5.470). Ancillary administration proceeds similarly to an ordinary administration in Florida.
Florida law also provides for a short-form ancillary administration when the decedent dies testate (with a will) and leaves property subject to administration in Florida with a total value, not more than $50,000 (F.S. s. 734.1025). We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers, includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources, and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary. Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. Christian T. Fahrig

* This article and this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information provided should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter and not rely on the content of this article. Nothing on this site is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and nothing posted constitutes legal advice. We cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete or up-to-date.

Form

CONTACT US:

4807 →

The Pitfalls of “Do It Yourself” Forms and Services

In the information age, web-based legal services and downloadable commercial forms are readily available and popular among those who think they cannot afford an attorney or can do it themselves. While seemingly safe, there are hazards in utilizing such do-it-yourself forms and services which may end up costing more time, effort, and money in the long run. The Florida Supreme Court recently decided a case highlighting these issues in Aldrich v. Basile (SC11-2147).

In this case, a decedent had prepared a will using a commercially available form, devising (bequeathing) her specifically listed property to her sister. The will also be instructed that in the event her sister predeceased her the listed property would go to her brother instead. As it always seems to happen in these cases, the decedent’s sister did indeed die before the decedent, so the decedent’s property should have passed to her brother according to the will. Unfortunately, the decedent’s form will do not provide for what was to be done with property that was not listed in the will, which, in this case, included property the decedent had inherited from her sister when her sister died. Usually, well-drafted will contain a “residuary clause,” included precisely to deal with scenarios like this. Courts give great respect to the wishes of a decedent in their will, which is called “testamentary intent.” Courts will usually interpret a will so that all of the decedent’s property owned at the time of death passes to the beneficiaries of the will instead of leaving some property to pass through intestacy (being treated as if there was no will).

Nevertheless, the court found that the commercial form will be not written correctly to devise the decedent’s property that was not listed in the will and that property had to pass by intestacy to beneficiaries who were never even mentioned in the decedent’s will. There is little doubt that the use of the commercial form will destroy the decedent’s testamentary intent. To ensure your will properly represents your wishes, contact an experienced probate lawyer. Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to your final wishes in regards to your loved ones and assets, in Florida or internationally.

We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers, includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources, and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary. Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement.

Christian T. Fahrig; Carl Christian Thier to administer the estate in Florida, a petition must be filed with the court containing authenticated copies of the domiciliary administration as necessary to show the will, petition to probate the will, order admitting the will to probate, and the authority of the person acting as a personal representative. If no intention exists the petition should include authenticated copies of the domiciliary administration to the extent that they show the petition for administration and the authority of a personal representative. A decedent’s will may also be admitted to probate in

Florida if the will meets the requirements of Florida law. (Fla. Prob. Rule 5.470). Ancillary administration proceeds similarly to an ordinary administration in Florida. Florida law also provides for a short-form ancillary administration when the decedent dies testate (with a will) and leaves property subject to administration in Florida with a total value, not more than $50,000 (F.S. s. 734.1025). We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers, includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources, and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary. Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. Christian T. Fahrig

* This article and this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information provided should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter and not rely on the content of this article. Nothing on this site is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and nothing posted constitutes legal advice. We cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete or up-to-date.

Form

CONTACT US:

4807 →