by Brian Mahany
On Christmas I saw Stephen Spielberg’s epic movie about Abraham Lincoln. Many think he was America’s greatest lawyer. Until today, I didn’t know that Lincoln never took the time to write a will. He joins the ranks of most Americans who won’t take an hour of their time to think about what happens to their property and kids when they die.
According to a story by attorneys Andy and Danielle Mayoras, Lincoln died without a will. That meant his estate went through a probate proceeding back in Sangamon County Court in Illinois. (Lincoln died in Washington DC while president, however he remained a citizen of Illinois.) The administrator of his estate was no ordinary person; Lincoln’s close personal friend U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Davis was appointed administrator. That itself was quite a feat because there were no planes or fax machines back in those days. Everything was handled by mail or face-to-face.
According to the Mayoras, who appeared to really research the topic, the estate was worth about $85,000. Of course in today’s dollars that would be worth millions.
We are not probate lawyers and don’t typically prepare wills (although managing lawyer Bethany Kroes volunteers for the Wills For Heroes project). We do protect the interests of spouses, children, grandchildren and loved ones, however, and litigate will contests and probate fights.
Most of these family battles would be eliminated if people took the time to prepare a will and carefully lay out how they want their assets distributed and who should raise their kids if tragedy strikes. Not having a will often leads to bitter family fights and can permanently break up families.
Having a will doesn’t eliminate all problems, of course but it is the single most important step one can do. Even if you feel like you can’t afford an attorney (we say that you can’t afford NOT to have an attorney), at least consider on-line services like Legal Zoom. For a modest flat fee you can create a will and at least leave a roadmap to your heirs.
As probate fraud lawyers, we know there will still be fights about forged documents and people using undue influence to cause someone to sign a new will on their deathbed. We stand ready to help preserve your loved one’s legacy when such situations occur.
Having a lawyer prepare a will is an important first step. If nothing else, just having a legal prepared will is a great first step. If tragedy strikes or you feel that someone has caused a fraudulent will to be executed, then consider a probate fraud lawyer.
Our boutique law firm specializes in fraud litigation. If you have been denied your rightful share of an inheritance or feel like your loved one’s last wishes are being ignored, give us a call. Often cases can be handled on a contingent fee basis meaning no fees unless your recover.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany by email at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and coming soon San Francisco, California. Fraud recovery available in many jurisdictions.
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