Nobody likes to discuss what is going to happen after they die or become incapacitated to a point at which they can no longer make their own decisions. However, discussing your family’s future needs with a Colorado estate planning attorney is crucial to ensuring that your affairs are handled as you desire. Indeed, one of the most common reasons why people create comprehensive estate plans is to avoid the possibility of a dispute between family members.
The sadness that accompanies a loved one’s passing is unrivaled. Understandably, during this time, issues that may not normally put stress on a relationship can turn into a serious feud. This is especially the case when finances are involved. Having a clearly worded will can reduce the possibility of these disputes.
A recent New York Times article documents an estate battle between a woman and three non-profit organizations, each believing that they are entitled to a $9 million estate. According to the article, the estate belonged to the woman’s mother’s female partner. Evidently, the two women had met decades ago, and they were romantically involved for nearly 20 years. In 2016, the woman’s mother’s partner passed away, and, just 12 days later, the woman’s mother followed.
The deaths triggered an estate battle centered around the $9 million estate of the partner. Evidently, there was one sentence in the will that treated her common-law wife the same as the dozen friends receiving smaller bequests. Under New York law, courts are to construe ambiguous terms in favor of surviving spouses, but the court found that the two women did not qualify as “married.”
Not only has this issue had major implications for several parties, but it has also raised concern for those in the gay and lesbian community. Specifically, many are concerned that, had the two women been involved as a heterosexual couple, the court would have considered the two as married.
The exact nature of the dispute and the confusing language that gave rise to its origin are beyond the scope of this post. However, the article serves as a good reminder about the importance of drafting a clearly worded will that can carry out an individual’s desires. Too often, people who rely on a pre-drafted or one-size-fits-all will experience these problems. Not only can a will ensure that someone’s belongings are distributed according to their wishes, but it can also reduce the chances of an estate dispute between friends and family members.
Meet with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
If you are concerned about what will happen to your assets after your death, contact one of the dedicated estate planning attorneys at the Braverman Law Group. At our firm, we offer clients personalized and attentive service, regardless of their needs or net worth. We represent individuals from all social and economic backgrounds, and we pride ourselves on our ability to create unique solutions to complex issues. To learn more about how our team of estate planning lawyers can help you plan for the future of your family, call 303-800-1588 to schedule a free consultation today.