Drafting a Will for a Family Member

By on March 17th, 2014

Posted in New Jersey

Often times, attorneys may be bombarded by family members or relatives with requests to provide free legal services which a family member or relative may request.  One typical request might be that a family member may request if the attorney could draft a Will for them. While this may seem like a simple and good idea, it is one that could have disastrous consequences which could lead to future Estate Litigation.  Any time an attorney drafts a Will for a family member, especially one in which there is a close relationship or even more importantly one in which the attorney himself may benefit by the Will, a presumption may arise as to the invalidity of the Will.  In general, if an attorney drafts a Will in which he or she is a beneficiary, there arises a presumption of undue influence which then must be rebutted by the beneficiaries of the Will by clear and convincing evidence in the context of a challenge to the Will.  The clear and convincing evidence standard is a difficult standard to satisfy and may ultimately lead to the invalidation of the Will, regardless of the intentions of the decedent.

As such, it is suggested that an attorney refrain from doing a favor for a family member or relative by drafting a Will for them, especially one in which the attorney might receive a bequest.  Instead, the best thing to do is to refer this party to unbiased counsel to draft the Will.  Clearly, the last thing that the decedent would want would be a post-mortem Will Contest based upon this sort of scenario.  The small cost that it would take to hire a unbiased attorney to perform this process is certainly worth the trouble and expense.

Multiple locations to better serve your needs—

Princeton, NJ

993 Lenox Dr, Building 2
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Phone: 609.896.9060
Secondary phone: 800.535.3425
Fax: 609.896.0629
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Marlton, NJ

40 Lake Center, 401 NJ-73, Suite 130
Marlton, NJ 08053
Phone: 856.874.4443
Secondary phone: 888.241.7424
Fax: 856.874.0133
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Yardley, PA

777 Township Line Road, Suite 120
Yardley, PA 19067
Phone: 267.907.9600
Fax: 267.907.9659
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New York, NY

5 Pennsylvania Plaza 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 800.535.3425
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Philadelphia, PA

The Bellevue 200 S Broad St #600
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 267.907.9600
Secondary phone: 800.535.3425
Fax: 215.564.6245
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Bridgeton, NJ

78 W Broad St
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Phone: 856.874.4443
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