When considering how you will pass your assets on to your family, you need to use far more than precatory language. Essentially, precatory language is the act of verbally promising someone that he or she will get something. It may be specific or more general. Either way, it does not replace a will.
For instance, one woman said that her father, as he got older, told her repeatedly that his assets would be used to care for her after he passed away. She was under the impression that she would get an inheritance and benefit from his estate.
However, that woman’s parents had split up when she was a kid, and her father had married a second time. She never really saw eye-to-eye with her stepmother.
After her father passed away, she found out that he had never created a trust and he had never filed a will. Apparently, he hoped that the girl’s stepmother, who inherited everything, would give a “fair” amount to his daughter.
The problem is that without legal documents in place, that man’s promises that he would take care of his daughter were not legally binding. His second wife had no obligation to give anything to the younger woman. She ended up offering the daughter just a handful of “sentimental jewelry items.” Even those, she decided to reject.
During life, it is easy to assume that what you tell your loved ones will stand after you pass away. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Make sure you know what legal steps you can take to plan how to distribute your estate.