Forgetting to amend your Will or Living Trust when your marital status changes, or if there is a new addition to the family, or in other major life circumstances, could leave someone that you love empty-handed. The name “Last Will and Testament” holds true in this case; be sure that the last version is the most current one.
Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and numerous other blockbusters, never updated his 2007 Will, even though he was dying of throat cancer and his fifth wife was pregnant. His Will even included language disinheriting any future children.
His wife, who was not an heir due to a prenuptial agreement, went to court to fight for their newborn to be included as an heir and to be appointed guardian of the son’s property. Crichton’s 20 year old daughter from a previous marriage opposed the request. California, as with most other states, has laws called “pretermitted heir” laws to protect children that are accidentally omitted so that they can still receive a considerable portion of the estate.
His wife’s lawyer had to try to convince a California probate judge that the clause disinheriting future children in Crichton’s Will did not remove the estate from the accidentally-omitted child law. Ultimately, Crichton’s baby inherited part of his estate. Whether this is really what Crichton would have wanted no one will ever know. What we do know is that Crichton could have saved his wife and his older daughter a lot of stress and headache had he simply updated his estate plan when she was pregnant.
(Copied from an email from The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. in Fairfax Virginia)
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