Must a will always be strictly followed?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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

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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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 . . . ."

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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