Judge notes that using a Will "form" may be penny-wise and pound-foolish
Ms. Aldrich wrote her will using a commercially available form (an “E–Z Legal Form”). This form did not include a space that allowed Ms. Aldrich to state how she wished to dispose of property should she acquire any property after the date when she filled out the form. As you can guess, after the fill-in-the-blank will was completed, Ms. Alrich did acquire property. Family members then sued each other when Ms. Alrich died because it was not clear from the DIY will who was entitled to receive Ms. Alrich's after-acquired property. In this will dispute, even though the will stated that she desired her described property pass to her brother, the "after-acquired property" was not described in the will, and so, the court reasoned, should pass as if Ms.Aldrich had not created a will. (In other words, Ms. Aldrich's self-drafted will expressed no intent as to who should own this after-acquired property).
In this Florida case of Alrich v. Basile (SC11-2147),the judge specifically cautioned, "While I appreciate that there are many individuals in this state who might have difficulty affording a lawyer, this case does remind me of the olage 'penny-wise and pound-foolish.' Obviously, the cost of drafting a will through the use of a pre-printed form is likely substantially lower than the cost of hiring a knowledgeable lawyer. However, as illustrated by this case, the ultimate cost of utilizing such a form to draft one's will has the potential to far surpass the cost of hiring a lawyer at the outset. In a case such as this, which involved a substantial sum of money, the time, effort, and expense of extensive litigation undertaken in order to prove a testator's true intent after the testator's death can necessitate the expenditure of much more substantial amounts in attorney's fees than was avoided during the testator's life by the use of a pre-printed form. I therefore take this opportunity to highlight a cautionary tale of the potential dangers of utilizing pre-printed forms and drafting a will without legal assistance. As this case illustrates, that decision can ultimately result in the frustration of the testator's intent, in addition to the payment of extensive attorney's fees-the precise results the testator sought to avoid in the first place."