Your neighbors have decorated their yard with skeletons and gravestones. You expect some ghosts and the grim reapers to come trick-or-treating. And every show on tv seems to be some sort of spooky special. Halloween is here, and along with it comes the fun of getting a little bit scared and eating too much candy!
This year, the Palmer & Slay team thought we should join in the celebration by sharing a few spooky facts about estate planning that are sure to send a shiver up your spine.
1. The will scratched into the paint of a tractor.
One of the more memorable cases studied in law school concerns the estate plan of a Canadian farmer named Cecil George Harris. Harris was working on his farm when an accident occured and he became trapped underneath his tractor.
He knew he would likely die of his injuries, so he took out his pocket knife and scratched the following message into the paint: “In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris.” A judge presented with the actual tractor part ruled this was a valid will.
2. Dead Hand Drama
Trying to control the actions of your loved ones after you are gone by including specific instructions in your will is so common it has a name — “dead hand control.” It is also a tactic so disfavored by the courts that wills that include provisions saying anything like “if you don’t do x, you will never see a dime” are often invalidated.
3. Making Plans for the Afterlife
Harry Houdini — who died on Halloween — drafted an estate plan that detailed his wishes in case he decided to contact his loved ones from beyond the grave. His will specified that wife should conduct a seance each year so he could see and speak to her, and he included a special code so that she’d know it was his spirit. While this sounds romantic, it is actually rather diabolical. This was the culmination of his lifelong crusade to prove that mediums and other people that claimed to talk to the dead were charlatans.
4. If you don’t draft an estate plan, the government will do it for you.
Perhaps the most frightening thing about estate planning is the fact that many people die without crossing this important item off their to-do list. When that happens, Mississippi law dictates what happens. We can think of few things more scary than the government swooping in, laying claim to all of your assets, then doling them out to only the people it sees fit.
Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones.
When it is done properly, there is nothing scary about estate planning. Taking some time to work with an experienced attorney to craft an estate plan that reflects your wishes and fits your family’s needs will give your family peace of mind and more space to grieve after you are gone.
The Brandon, Mississippi-based attorneys at Palmer & Slay PLLC are ready to help you ensure your wealth and your loved ones are protected long after you are gone. Please contact us today to set up a meeting with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.