Now, y’all know I’m from Texas, so a little country music gossip makes total sense. Turns out, Country music songwriter Billy Joe Shaver died on October 2020 with several last wills floating around.
Shaver, who was married five times to two women(!), drafted a will in 2000 that named his sister, Patricia, as executrix and left everything to her. Three years later, in 2003, Shaver created a new will leaving his estate to his sister’s son, Terry Rogers. So far, so good.
Both of those wills, and others Shaver drafted over the years, were drawn up professionally by Shaver’s attorney Elizabeth Miller, who died in January 2021.
After Shaver’s passing, in comes Fred Fletcher, a music producer, former drummer in Shaver’s band and the nephew of Willie Nelson (super random) challenging the 2003 will by filing a 2008 handwritten document in which Shaver names Fletcher as his sole beneficiary. Unfortunately, Fletcher can only produce A COPY of that 2008 will and DOESN’T HAVE AN ORIGINAL LAST WILL.
So, what can we learn from this handwritten mess? How would things shake up in Florida?
Avid readers of this newsletter already know that a hand-written last will or holographic will (love that word) is not valid in Florida. We, in the Sunshine State, must have our last wills typed up for them to be valid. The idea is that it should take time and formality to create a last will and should not be drafted “on the fly.”
However, a very important question arose during the Shaver estate proceeding in that why would Shaver change his longstanding practice of going to his trusted attorney, Miller, to make estate plan changes?
I suspect this will be the crux of the argument and hurdle for the Fletcher team. It makes sense to establish a relationship with an attorney that knows your intentions and can keep track of your changes. Not only to avoid a holographic will situation, but also to answer questions as to intent.