Most people do not know that there are circumstances where they can create a valid Will that a court will later rule is invalid because it is too old and other things have happened in the intervening years. It is rare that it happens, but it does happen. It happened to the estate of the legendary actor Sir Peter Ustinov.
Ustinov created a Will in 1968 and then got remarried a few years later. His Will is subject to Swiss law. The courts in that country ruled that the Will was too old and invalidated by the intervening marriage. Because of that ruling, Ustinov’s estate is treated as if he died intestate. Ordinarily, that would mean that the estate would all go to his wife. However, he had children from his previous marriage. They claim that Ustinov later created Trusts in England that are still valid. Apparently, the Trusts leave the majority of the estate to the children. The parties have been fighting about the estate for 9 years and there is no end in sight.
The real issue is that Ustinov did not update his Will when the circumstances of his life changed. He should have updated his estate plan when he got remarried. He then should have looked at his plan every few years to make any other changes. His failure to do so has many people believing that his entire estate has been spent on lawyers.
Davidov Law Group is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.