When it comes to estate protection after death, no one really wants to talk about the topic. Mostly due to the association with death, mortality, and all the essentially unanswerable questions that have inspired poets and philosophers for centuries. But, prior planning prevent poor estate disposition results. The best example of a failure to properly plan: the Handwritten will.
No one expects the unexpected. Particularly an untimely demise. In nearly every academic study of wills, one example of a handwritten will stands out as perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of a will accepted by a legal court. The story involves a tractor, a Canadian, and a penknife. The result, while legally sound, is not good for the Canadian.
The Sad Tale of Cecil Harris
One day, a day not unlike any other day, a Canadian farmer went out to perform his duties. The farmer’s task involved inspecting a far off section his acreage. He rode off on his tractor, a model that had metal wheels. In a terrible accident, the machine’s wheel pinned him and left him severally injured. Although his wife and the local community attempted to save him, he passed away the day after the accident.
Cecil George Harris, the late Canadian farmer, had seen his demise on the horizon. During his time pinned, awaiting rescue, he scratched his final will into the fender of the tractor that killed him.
“In Case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo. Harris.”
Handwritten Will in Court
Once discovered, an attorney, Stanley Elliot, had the fender removed. Elliot had to prove that the late Mr. Harris died “in this mess” by connecting the accident and Mr. Harris’ death. Next, Mr. Elliot had to show it was Mr. Harris’ handwriting. To do this, he introduced the fender to the court, and called Mr. Harris’ banker to verify the handwriting.
Plan Ahead for Your Estate Disposition
Virginia probate courts will recognize a handwritten will, but it faces a variety of problems. Regardless of what stage of life you are in, custom estate planning is easier than you think. If you could ask Mr. Harris, he would tell you accidents happen. No one can foretell the future, so protect the ones you love by properly planning your estate. The complexity of customized estate planning can be difficult without a competent guide through state and federal laws governing disposition of your property. Prepare and protect your family’s future.