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Do-it-yourself will leads to an unfortunate result

Here’s yet another example of how people who try to create their own wills, using a form taken from a book or the Internet, often shoot themselves in the foot.

George Zeevering of Pennsylvania wanted his estate to go to two of his five children. He wrote a “do-it-yourself” will in which he left his pickup truck to his daughter Diane and his summer home to his son Wayne. He also stated that he was intentionally leaving his other three children out of the will.

The problem? The will never specifically stated what would happen to the rest of his property other than the truck and the summer home. While George presumably wanted it to be divided between Diane and Wayne, he never spelled this out.

The rest of the property was worth $217,000, and the children all went to court to argue about it. A judge eventually ruled that under Pennsylvania law, the $217,000 had to be divided equally among all five children – even though George had deliberately tried to cut the other three out of the will.

If George had consulted an attorney about his estate plan, he’d have gotten the result he wanted, and he would also have spent far less than his children ended up spending trying (and failing) to untangle his mistakes.



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