Local attorney advises: Get a Will!

“Stranger than Fiction” Legal Column by Rockwall Attorney Chris Ash

I received a call recently from a single mom asking for help.  I’ll call her Ms. Johnson.  Only moments into this call, my heart sank for her.  Her father had died when she was a teenager.  Her mother had re-married a very nice man, and she became quite close to her step-dad as the years went by.  Her step-father had children from a prior marriage, but wasn’t close to them;  they never visited him (even during holidays), and some were in trouble with the law.  Ms. Johnson became an adult, moved away and began a family of her own.

A couple of years ago Ms. Johnson’s mother passed away.  She continued to be close with her step-dad and spoke with him often.  In January, he died suddenly.  He also died without a will.

Because her step-father passed without a will, Ms. Johnson is considered a “stranger,” legally, to her step-father.  And as a result, her step-father’s natural children – whom he had no contact with for years – inherited his property.  This unfortunate result occurred despite the fact that the step-father had verbally promised Ms. Johnson that he wanted her to have virtually all of his property when he died and that he wanted her to be taken care of.  Without a written will, none of these verbal promises could be enforced.  To make matters even worse, because much of her mother’s property had passed to the husband (Ms. Johnson’s step-dad) when she died, some of her mother’s property has ended up in the hands of the step-father’s children as well.  We are presently trying to assist her with this.

The message from this situation is clear – get a will.  I am consistently amazed by how people will go to great lengths to provide for their loved ones by getting life insurance, disability insurance, paying for college and buying a nice home, but they don’t get a will, or if they do, they do it only once and never update it.

Please don’t be the next Ms. Johnson to call me.  As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”

Rockwall resident Chris Ash is a partner at Shaver & Ash PLLC, Town East Tower, 18601 LBJ Freeway, Suite # 520, Mesquite, Texas 75150.

Contact him at 214-295-2901 or cash@Shaverlawfirm.com (www.shaverandash.com).


3 Responses for “Local attorney advises: Get a Will!”

  1. Dave Karl says:

    Great advice. I have put this off for too long and do not want to end up in a situation that could have been avoided had I only taken the time. I will have to contact you to get things started for a will.

  2. Even those who do not think they need a will. Do need one to prevent a lot of problems.Also many end of life bad situations can be prevented by letting your wishes be known, and if you want to be hooked up to preserve your life no matter what, and many other questions can be taken care of ahead of time.

  3. Good and sound advise. Makes you stop and think. We, as parents, often pre-pay for funeral services to protect our children. A will sounds so much more important.
    Thank you Mr. Ash. You look and sound like a trustworthy and able Attorney.
    Will discuss with my family and bring things up to date.
    Thank you!!

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