Is a piece of paper with stipulation as to assets disbursement that has been signed and witnessed, a legal document?

My parents have passed but my brother does not want to honor their final wishes. There is approximately $364,000 in assets that was to be distributed equally between us. What can I do?

Asked on January 18, 2013 under Estate Planning, Utah


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The piece of paper you describe may very well satisfy Utah's requirements for a will.  I do not practice in Utah but I understand their will requirements to be more liberal than some other states (including Florida, where I practice).  Consult a lawyer in your area and take this piece of paper with you.  The lawyer should be able to tell you if it is binding.

Having said that, the $364,000 in assets have to pass into your parents' estate before their will is enforceable.  If the assets were in joint name with your brother, he may get them regardless of the contents of a will.  If your brother was the only one listed as a beneficiary on these assets, he may get them regardless of the contents of a will.

This is a substantial sum of money.  Consult a lawyer and see what can be done.

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