It is said that family members come together when a loved one is terminally ill so that they can set aside old grievances. While this behavior is ideal, it is not always the case. In fact, some people may take their umbrages to the grave by cutting specific people out of their wills. This may include children, siblings, business partners and especially former spouses.
The latest example of this is seen with Jerry Lewis’ will. The long time comedian whose telethon has become ubiquitous with Labor Day weekend recently had his will probated. It was discovered that he left all six of his children from his first marriage to Patti Palmer out of his will. Lewis and Palmer were married for 36 years.
According to a recent People.com report, Mr. Lewis states that he intentionally excluded them as well as their beneficiaries, and that he intended for them not to receive any benefits under his will. Instead, Lewis wrote that a majority of his vast fortune would be passed to his second wife, SanDee Pitnick. If anything should happen to her, the fortune would go the couple’s adopted daughter.
Given the language in the will, and the prior tensions between Lewis and his children, it is not likely that the will be challenged, but the story is an example of how specific language can be used to communicate one’s wishes in a will, even if it is to exclude certain people.
If you have questions about proper language in a will, an experienced estate planning attorney can advise you.
The preceding is for informational purposes only.