Will Stories

Les Kotzer
http://www.leskotzer.com

Les Kotzer

Call: Local:      905.881.1500
Toll Free:        1.877.439.3999
or E-Mail         leskotzer@leskotzer.com

HOMEMADE WILL

A man came into our office with a copy of his Will. He had made it on his own, without legal assistance. He was certain that it was more than adequate to cover his needs, since he was in his sixties, unmarried and had no children. His parents had passed away. He was an only child. However as a matter of precaution, he had brought his Will in so that I could review that what is said just to be sure it was a proper Will. Unfortunately, he trivialized what Wills lawyers do for their clients. When I asked him why he did a Will on his own, he said it was because his situation was so simple.

I will now share with you, in general terms, what his homemade Will said.

His handwritten Will contained only two sentences. The first appointed his mother’s friend as his executor. The second said that his estate was to be divided between “my best friends and the relatives I feel closest to”. The Will was signed by by him, but there was no date on it.

Aside from the fact that the Will had no date and was missing important legal clauses found in lawyer-prepared Wills, the two sentences contained in his Will had potential problems written all over them.

His mother’s friend was named as his executor, but when I asked him how old she was, he said that she was 86. There was no alternate executor named to act if she was unable to. When I pointed out to him that this was a potential problem, he responded that she was “a strong woman and would probably live to 100”. He was no interested in naming a back-up executor.

He also seemed surprised when I told him that, from a Will drafting point of view, the wording in the second sentence of his Will was not adequate. I told him that this wording was too vague. I explained  that any of his friends could say that he or she was one of his “best friends”. I also asked him to tell me how anyone would ever be able to prove which relatives were “the ones he felt closest to”.

The gentleman retorted that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill because his executor would easily know what he meant. I asked him how the executor would know. He responded, “What are you talking about? Of course my executor would know who gets a piece of my estate!”

I asked him whether he spoke to the executor on a regular basis. He said he didn’t speak to the executor very often, but he said he knows that the executor would “ask around” and get the answer. I told him that he was creating a recipe for a battle between his friends and his relatives. He said that he did not want to keep changing his Will every time he had a falling out with a friend or relative. He also added that with the way his Will was worded, no one would ever hurt feelings about being left out of the clause which divided up his estate, since no one was named in it.

There was no convincing this person that he was on the wrong track. He simply seemed to be unable to envision various beneficiaries fighting one another as to who qualified to inherit who did not. His final comments was, “Let them all move in to my house after I am gone. Who cares? I’ll be dead anyway!

A Unique Will Planning Technique

A caller to a radio show told me a very unusual story.

She spoke of her elderly uncle who was a widower with no children, but who had many nieces and nephews. He was an eccentric, wealthy man. What was so unique about her story was that her uncle, who could hear very well, went to great lengths to give a general impression that he was very hard of hearing. As the story went, he was successful in his efforts. His pretended hearing impairment lulled those in his presence into a false sense of security; but the reality was that he was able to hear things which others did not think he would be able to hear.

Her uncle confided in her that he initially developed  this tactic for business purposes, but by the time he was in his mid-eighties, he began to use it in family gatherings, in the company of his nieces and nephews. As a result, their unguarded dialogue spoke volumes to her uncle.

Over a period of time, the comments made during Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners and other informal gatherings of the family, gave her uncle a clear vision as to those who had a genuine affection for him on the one hand, and those who greed, disrespect and lack of concert for him showed them to be undeserving of his generosity.

Of all his nieces and nephews, the caller was the only one who earned the trust of her uncle. This is why her uncle decided to confide in her about his hearing ability. She laughed as she described the night when many truths came out. It was at her uncle’s 90th birthday party, when all of his nieces and nephews were gathered together. When her uncle stood up to give a few words of thanks to the family to the family, he surprised them when the first thing he said was, “I’ve been waiting to say these words for the last few years. I can hear perfectly. I have always had perfect hearing, and I have heard everything you have ever said to me and about me”. That shocked everyone in the room. Then he turned to his nieces and nephews, one-by-one and said:

Gregory, “So I understand that you really can’t wait to get your hands on my large screen TV, and Nancy. “I’m sorry you think I’m so cheap”, and Paul, “So you think, it’s a pain in a neck to have to drive to the Doctor’s Office”, and Claire. “I’m sorry you think I am such a burden to you”. The comments from the uncle to the nieces and nephews went on and on until each of them heard what they thought their uncle had not.

The caller could hardly restrain herself from laughing on the radio in describing the astonished looks on the faces of eight of her cousins, who had spent all this time thinking their uncle was practically deaf. In the end, the caller’s uncle confided in her that he now knew exactly what would be in his Will.

 

Les Kotzer is a Thornhill Wills Lawyer who has been featured in media across North America including CNN, Time, Fortune and CTV National News. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2013.

Les is pleased to offer a free Will review for those who have a Will and are not sure if it is up to date. He also offers a free Will consultation, if you do not have a Will and are not sure where to start. To book an appointment with Les you can call his office at 905-881-1500. You can also email him for an appointment at les@leskotzer.com“>

For more information, please visit leskotzer.com or willappointment.com