If my friend wants me to inherit his house if I survive him but hasn’t updated his Will to include that, what should be done?

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If my friend wants me to inherit his house if I survive him but hasn’t updated his Will to include that, what should be done?

He has verbally told his executor as well as a local lawyer (who represented his mother before she passed away, not the one who did his Will many years ago in another state), and others. He says that my interests are adequately protected in AZ but I have my doubts. If my doubts are justified, is a written statement any improvement? If one assumes his executor is perfectly trustworthy, is it true that the process could go smoothly in spite of its informality? Would it cause delay in the process?

Asked on November 19, 2011 under Estate Planning, Arizona

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You won't have any claim to inherit the house unless it is in writing and is included in the Will.  Oral representations by your friend and others won't be acceptable in a Probate court.  The court looks at evidence of the validity of the Will and in determining what is to be inherited by beneficiaries.  Depending on the memory of the various people who were told (with nothing in writing) that you are to inherit the house is unacceptable.  You can't depend on their faulty memories possibly many years from now when you are to inherit the house or even if those people will still be around at that time.

Your friend should amend the Will to include you as a beneficiary designated to inherit the house.  An amendment to the Will is a codocil.  The codocil can be included referencing this amendment to the Will and can be signed and acknowledged by your friend in the presence of witnesses.


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