If you are seeking information about the biggest errors people make with wills, you have already avoided a major one by starting to look into the process. Responses to an estate planning survey conducted by Caring.com reveal that two out of three adults in the US do not have a will, and many of these individuals cited mere procrastination as the reason. Others responded that they are not “wealthy” enough to make arrangements, and many stated that they do not know where to begin with creating one. These mistaken assumptions can thwart your intentions for how your estate is handled at death and create extreme hassles for loved ones.
However, once you avoid the mistake of not creating a will, there are still many pitfalls that you could encounter. To prevent blunders from turning into unintended results, work with a wills and estate planning lawyer who can guide you through the process. Some of the most damaging errors include:
- Not Complying with Legal Requirements: Every US state has enacted laws on what is necessary to create a valid will, and many of the requirements involve signing, witnessing, and notarizing the document. Plus, a testator must have the proper legal capacity to sign a will, which generally refers to being mentally competent.
- Including the Wrong Assets: There are some items of property that you cannot pass by will, particularly real estate. When a deed to joint owners includes language regarding right of survivorship, a decedent’s interest in property passes to the surviving owners by operation of law. The same is true when you name someone as beneficiary on bank, retirement, and investment accounts. Any attempt to pass these items by will is pointless, since beneficiary designations trump the will.
- Leaving Surprises: If you include provisions in your will that might shock your loved ones, it is often worthwhile to explain them during your lifetime or through a written statement. When you cite your reasons for omitting someone or passing a particular asset, those who survive you may be less likely to file a will contest or other type of lawsuit. Disgruntled individuals can often turn surprises into costly litigation that dissipates your estate value.
- Failing to Update Your Will: Even after going error-free in executing your will, keep in mind that your lifestyle, milestones, changes in the law, and other factors can affect the arrangements you made initially. It is just as important to review and update your will upon marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of the executor or beneficiary, and many other events. Aside from these circumstances, aim for revisiting your will once every three to five years.
Set up a Consultation With a Wills and Estate Planning Attorney Today
These mistakes with creating a will are easily avoided when you retain a skilled lawyer who can explain the relevant legal concepts and assist with achieving your goals. To learn how our team can help, please contact Francois Williams Legal LLC to schedule a consultation. We can advise you on options and work out document preparation after assessing your unique circumstances.