Justice for Injury Victims

Is Ron Swanson’s Will Legally Enforceable?

WARNING: This is not legal advice. Additionally, the transcript of this video was made using a third party transcription service, so there may be inaccuracies. All video rights go to the respected owner. Please see the full disclaimer.   

Speaker 1:

All of my belongings shall transfer to the man or animal who has killed me.

Ben:

What are these weird symbols?

Ron Swanson:

The man who kills me will know.

Tommy:

Hello ladies and gentlemen of the jury. One of my subscribers asked me to provide legal analysis of Ron Swanson’s will. For those of you who don’t know who Ron Swanson is, he’s a fictional character in the show, Parks and Recreation, which takes place in Pawnee, Indiana. That’s important because Indiana law will apply to this analysis. Before I begin, make sure you stick around to the end of the video where I answer the final question, “Do I think Ron Swanson’s will is legally valid,” and also make sure you leave any videos that you want me to provide legal analysis for. In my last video I provided legal analysis for a real life police interaction. Without further ado, let’s jump into it.

Ben:

Whoa. I am pretty sure you shouldn’t have a weapon at work.

Ron Swanson:

Literally everything is a weapon son. That folder in my hands is far deadlier than this bow in yours.

Ben:

Oh, that’s probably true. Leslie and I just finished putting together our will, and she wants you to be the witness. You mind signing it?

Ron Swanson:

That’s your will? You need that many pages to say, “Give my stuff to my wife.”

Ben:

It’s a complicated legal document.

Tommy:

Wills actually are complicated legal documents, especially when you’re dealing with a relatively large estate. The reason why Ben is asking Ron to sign the will is because most States require that a will be signed by at least one, if not more, disinterested third parties. The reason for this is simple. Without disinterested third parties testifying to the validity of the will, it would be really easy to forge wills or fraudulently introduce wills into a probate court. All right, moving on.

Ron Swanson:

It doesn’t have to be. I’ve had the same will since I was eight years old.

Tommy:

Okay, so before we even take a look at the will, let’s analyze what Ron Swanson said because he said something really important. He said that he’s had the same will since he was eight years old. Under the common law, you have to be at least 18 years old to have the capacity to even execute a will. While there are narrow exceptions to this, depending on the state, such as being married, or being in the military, that allows someone to create a will when they’re under the age of 18, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Tommy:

But Ron Swanson could make the argument that he is reaffirming the will, so even though he executed it while he was under the age of 18 he has since reaffirmed it since he’s clearly over the age of 18 now. I actually performed a cursory check on Indiana case law on this matter, but couldn’t find anything on point. So if you’re an Indiana lawyer, make sure you leave your comments down below. But let’s keep going because I don’t think that issue is really going to matter in this analysis.

Speaker 1:

Upon my death all of my belongings shall transfer to the man or animal who has killed me.

Ben:

What are these weird symbols?

Ron Swanson:

The man who kills me will know.

Tommy:

Let’s break down Ron Swanson’s will in two parts, form and substance. First with respect to form, this is a holographic will. A holographic will is a handwritten will. Most states require holographic wills to be in the handwriting of the testator, and to be signed by the testator. That appears to be the case here. But that’s all for naught if the state doesn’t allow holographic wills, and Indiana does not allow holographic wills. So right here on its face, this will fails for that very reason. But that wouldn’t be fun if we just stopped the video here, so let’s keep providing legal analysis. Now, with respect to the substance of the will, this is actually fairly interesting. There are a couple of topics that I want to identify.

Tommy:

First is the weird symbols. Now, the weird symbols appear to be ambiguous. Ben doesn’t know what they are, and presumably a court of law wouldn’t know what they were either. Do the weird symbols prohibit the rest of the will’s contents from being valid? The answer to that question is, probably not. Generally when a court finds that a part of the will is ambiguous, they cut out that particular part of the will and only that part of the will passes through intestacy while the rest of the will, the non-ambiguous part of the will, passes just as the testator intended.

Tommy:

The second major legal issue that arises from the contents of Ron Swanson’s will is, “Can someone expressly waive the Slayer Statute?” A Slayer Statute is enacted to prohibit someone who murders a testator from inheriting from their will, and the public policy from this is fairly straightforward. We don’t want to encourage someone from killing someone else just to inherit their stuff. But in this case, Ron Swanson seems to expressly waive the Slayer Statute. He actually encourages the person who kills him to get all of his stuff. So do you think a court of law would allow someone to expressly waive the Slayer Statute? This is actually a fairly interesting topic, and I don’t think it’s ever been addressed, so I want to know in the comments below what you think of that.

Tommy:

The third legal issue that arises from the contents of Ron Swanson’s will is, “Can an animal inherit from a will?” The answer to that question is, no. In the United States an animal cannot own property, therefore they cannot inherit a will. So if a beast were to kill Ron Swanson, it wouldn’t be able to inherit his stuff. Let’s keep going.

Ben:

You should really have a will that’s more than one sentence long. You have a wife and kids now. I could introduce you to our lawyer.

Ron Swanson:

The three most useless jobs in the world are, in order, lawyer, congressman, and doctor. Pass.

Ben:

Ron, that document-

Tommy:

Obviously Ron’s wrong here. Everybody hates lawyers until you need one to navigate this extremely burdensome and unforgiving justice system that we have. Come on, Ron, lawyers are people too.

Ben:

Document is nothing. It’s not even notarized. You know, if you die, and you don’t have a real will, most of what you own will go to the government.

Ron Swanson:

Where is this lawyer you’re speaking of?

Tommy:

Couple of things. First of all, do wills have to be notarized? The answer to this is, probably yes, but not all the time. But it’s always a good point of reference to notarize a will. You can never go wrong by notarizing something. It’s better to be safe than sorry. The second point that I want to bring up from this last statement is, do all of your things go to the government if you die without a will? That answer is no. If you die without a will, your assets pass through something called intestacy, which is a statutory way in which your assets get distributed.

Tommy:

Intestacy focuses mainly on bloodlines and close relationships. While every state is a little bit different, most of your stuff would be passed to your spouse, your children, and if you don’t have a spouse or children, then your parents, and if you don’t have parents, then your siblings, and if you don’t have siblings, then your cousins, and you get farther and farther away. Not all of your stuff goes to the government.

Tommy:

Well, I hope you liked this quick video about the legal analysis of Ron Swanson’s will. Make sure you Like and subscribe to my channel, and remember to leave any comments down below. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or do analysis for any videos you may provide. Thanks again. I rest my case.

 

Very professional and responsive

“I told him Tommy John, you’re my hero. Because that’s how I feel about him. I do not know what I would have done without Tommy John and his team. I can’t even imagine.”

Posted by Jarrett R.