Attorney Marielle Hazen Discusses Wills on WITF’s The Spark

Dec 8, 2023

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – On The Spark, Ms. Hazen and the hosts discussed the recent case of Aretha Franklin’s will. After Franklin died in 2018, a handwritten will was discovered in a couch cushion. After several years of efforts to determine how her estate would be handled, a Michigan jury determined that the will found in the couch cushion was valid under state law – and that its terms controlled the administration of Ms. Franklin’s estate.

In Michigan, handwritten or “holographic” wills are exempt from some requirements that apply to other wills, such as the need for at least two witnesses to attest to the signing of the will. This makes handwritten wills appealing to some people who may be seeking a way to create a will that doesn’t require extra steps.

Yet these wills can cause problems later on, Ms. Hazen told the team at The Spark.

“It’s not the way you want to have your estate handled. And it’s not good for anybody involved. That family. It’s been a long journey for them, and it’s not good for those family relationships going forward. So, certainly not the legacy that you want to leave for your family. And it also means that you have a court working to interpret what your intentions were instead of you making those intentions clear yourself,” Ms. Hazen said at WITF.

Ms. Hazen also explained some key differences between Pennsylvania law regarding wills and estates and the rules in other US states. She outlined the basics of creating a will, as well. She listed several topics that every creator of a will must consider, from how to distribute your things when you die to who you may need to provide for, such as children or a spouse, after your death.

Since a person’s needs change throughout their life, a will should be updated to reflect those changes.

Hazen Law Group’s elder law and estate planning attorneys are widely regarded as leaders in planning for seniors and disabled individuals. Their attorneys will take the time to listen carefully to concerns and develop solutions that address them.

Hazen Law Group
2000 Linglestown Road, Suite 202
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 540-4332
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