The history of honoring the dead is a history of the living paying respect to the wishes of the dead. From early Afro-Egyptian history to later British civilization, enlightened people have made efforts to prevent fraud on the dead. Those familiar with legal history will be very familiar with, The Statute of Frauds. This Act of the British Legislator which is reflected in the legal culture of The United States had at its core, the avoidance of fraud.
Why then it appears that we have forgotten the lessons of history? The answer may lie in the fact that we simply don’t get it. In recent times, we have become accustomed to things the easy way, hence we rely heavily on legal selfhelp software instead of professional assistance. Remember, a will only takes effect at the death of its creator. Therefore, a mistake in its creation is a fatal mistake. In other words, make a mistake and his loved ones may realize that the wishes of the deceased is totally disregarded by the courts.
The Surrogate Court which deals with administration of estates, must be satisfied that at all cost it is carrying out the intention of the dead. It must determine whether the will was created according to the formalities to create valid will. It must determine whether the document has been properly witnessed, published and that the legacy it seeks to distribute is properly identified. Too often we see wills contested where allegations are made that the creator of the purported will lacked mental capacity to create the will in question. A serious error in creating a will may result in no will. Is writing your will something to take lightly? The answer may very well depend upon the importance we place on ensuring our desire is carried out after death.
If the living is serious about ensuring his/her wishes are carried out at death, the living will take every effort to do so while he/she is alive.
The preceding is not intended as legal advice, on the contrary, the preceding is simply a call to the living to think seriously about the consequences of his actions or inactions in relation to his death wishes.
By: Wayne Benjamin Marsh, Esq. (Brooklyn NY)
Disclaimer: The information above may be considered attorney advertising and is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, please call Wayne B. Marsh Law.