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Phone: 201-345-3018

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With Estate Planning, if it's Not In Writing, it Might as Well Not Exist

Earlier this month, a Texas probate judge turned down a bid by Darla Lexington to stop the sale of five classic cars from her husband's collection - cars, she said, had been meant for her. The problem was that none of this was in writing.

The wife (by all accounts) of a famous lawyer, Lexington has nearly no proof to back it up. She has a wedding ring and most of the people who knew her husband acknowledged her as his spouse. However, there exists no legal document proclaiming them husband and wife.

His will, last updated one year ago, left everything to a charitable foundation.

Perhaps he had meant to update the will, but just hadn't gotten around to it yet. He died suddenly, in a car accident, at the age of 68. Whatever he may have planned to do, when he passed away, Lexington was left with nothing but the things she knew to be true.

However, verbal assurances only go so far in probate and, especially if what you are saying contradicts the last will and testament of the individual in question, you're probably out of luck.

Still putting off that will?

Estate planning is about more than tying everything together in a neat bundle for yourself. It's also about making sure that your loved ones are taken care of. Of course, most married couples will have legal documentation of their union and, had Lexington had even that, she may have stood a better chance.

Still, without specific direction and clear intent, it's hard to say that things will turn out the way you want or expect them to.

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