Congratulations! You have taken the right step and created a will that expresses your wishes and desires clearly for your estate if you should die. The decisions have been made as to the best way your estate should be handled. But, make sure you follow Rule #1 regarding creating a will. Make sure someone knows where the will is located!
Olympic Gold Medalist’s Death Tears Family Apart When Will Is Lost
One woman made this mistake and her family was torn apart. Olympian sprinter Florence (Flo Jo) Griffith Joyner, the fastest woman of all time, had broken records in the 100 and 200 meter sprints at the 1988 Olympics. At 38 years old she died from an epileptic seizure.
Flo Jo had created a will but no one could locate it and so it was as if she died intestate, without a will. Probate court took four years to settle her estate. Years of litigation caused her family to be torn apart.
Where There’s No Will, There’s No Way
If there is no will to inform the probate court what your wishes are, then your family and loved ones cannot be protected or provided for adequately. In the case of Flo Jo’s estate, the judge finally decided to put the control of the estate in the hands of a third party because her husband and mother could not agree and tension was out of control.
Flo Jo’s mother said that Flo Jo told her she could stay in the house for the rest of her life but Flo Jo’s husband said that it wasn’t true. The tension increased over the time of the probate. Her mother even sued Flo Jo’s husband for wrongful death. They fought in court for years. One of the disagreements was setting up a charitable organization in Flo Jo’s name. Flo Jo’s mother and husband never resolved their disagreements.
Don’t Tear Your Family Apart!
It is never the intention of anyone to have their family fight over their things when they die. They don’t plan on their family being torn apart because agreements cannot be made regarding their estate. But, we can see in Flo Jo’s case that it does happen. Knowing for certain what someone wants can make things much easier to accept. Having a will provides that guidance to your family and the court. If a will is not available, your family and loved ones will not know for certain your true intentions for your estate, which will lead to fighting and hurt feelings.
Allow our office to help you create an estate plan that is best for your needs. Please avoid tearing your family apart by creating a clear, documented and easy to find will explaining your wishes. Don’t let your family down by leaving your estate unprotected.