Must a will always be strictly followed?

My half-sister’s will, written many years ago and prior to her dementia, leaves
a house in NC to our nephews and a house in NY to her cousins, with her liquid
assets now considerably depleted, due to cost of care in a facility divided
among her surviving half-siblings. One half-sibling was given a durable power
of attorney 8 years ago, and has been handling all affairs since. This sibling
sold the NC property to help offset nursing home fees, but failed to put the NY
property on the market in time for a sale before our half-sister’s recent
death.

It does not seem fair that, because the sister with power of attorney chose to
live in the NY property while she upgraded the house rather than putting it on
the market, the cousins will now inherit it, while the nephews receive
nothing–definitely not my half-sister’s intent.

Is there any provision in the law to allow this situation to be rectified?

Asked on December 22, 2017 under Estate Planning, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, a will MUST be followed strictly; the law does not allow for wills to be adjusted later for "fairness."
2) Often, a person does not inherit when they "should" have inherited under a will because the property, asset, money, etc. they were promised is gone: used up, spent, sold, gifted, transferred, etc. A will is not a guaranty of getting anything and does not limit what can be done with assets while a person is alive: a provison in a will that someone will get something should be read or understood as "IF I still have that thing I promised you when I die, then you will get it . . . ."


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