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The Plain English Attorney

The estate disaster of the month involves the Vermont probate trial over the Will of author and illustrator Tasha Tudor who illustrated such greats as “Pumpkin Moonshine” and “Little Women.” Apparently, there is a dispute over the Will which favored her oldest son Seth Tudor. The argument is whether or not he unduly influenced her in writing her Last Will and Testament, and so the children and their lawyers have taken the arguments to court. And now her $2 million estate is dwindling fast to keep up with the legal bills.

In reading an online news article from ABC News, one quotation made it abundantly clear who the main beneficiaries of the estate will actually be. Ms. Tudor’s daughter Bethany said, “If they don’t do anything soon, the lawyers will get all of it, that’s what I think.” And she is probably right. By having a Will instead of a revocable living trust, Ms. Tudor’s estate plan is much easier to contest, and it is typical that all of the lawyer’s get paid no matter who wins. So the main beneficiary of the estate may end up being the lawyers involved in the estate rather than any of the children.

Now, the reason this is a category 3 disaster and not a category 5? Because this is just par for the course. At least she had a written estate plan. And while it would be much better to have placed her plans into a safer document that was harder to contest like a revocable living trust, just having a written plan is better than what 75% of the population has.

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