Elizabeth Edwards, who passed away on December 7, 2010, executed her Last Will and Testament on December 1, 2010, and cut out her estranged husband, former presidential candidate John Edwards. The Will has been filed in Orange County Superior Court in North Carolina, and her Estate has been opened for probate. The Will makes no mention of John Edwards. Instead, Elizabeth Edwards left her personal effects, furniture, automobiles and other property to be divided among her three children, Cate, Emma Claire and Jack. Cate, her eldest daughter, has been named Executor, and will be responsible for carrying out the probate of Elizabeth’s Estate. There has been statement from John Edwards regarding this new Will. Full article: msnbc.com.

When executing a Will just days before one’s death, especially when the individual cuts out a family member, questions of testamentary capacity may be raised. To create a valid Will, a person must be 18 years of age and be of sound mind, what is called testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity is broken down into four elements. First, the person must understand what he or she is doing, that the person is signing a Will. Secondly, the testator must know the nature and extent of his or her property. Thirdly, the testator is expected to know “the natural object of his bounty,” meaning the people in the testator’s life to whom the property will be transferred. Finally, the testator must have a plan to distribute the property to actual persons. The plan must be coherent, although it may be eccentric. Under New York law, a Will must be witnessed by two individuals, and these individuals attest to the testator’s capacity. These individuals must not take under the Will or by intestacy.

The attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C. have worked with a variety of families in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island. For questions regarding estate planning, please contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-888-556-2529 or visit the firm’s website at www.lbestatelaw.com.