If you have decided to create a will, you are one step closer to having a comprehensive estate plan in place. Here are a few mistakes to avoid so that you and your loved ones can enjoy the benefits of having a valid will that communicates your wishes.
Being too vague
It may seem like a good idea to give general directions in your will and leave your loved ones to sort out the particulars, but this can be a mistake. The more specific you are in communicating who will receive what, the less chance of your family getting involved in estate disputes. Remember to give specific directions regarding every type of property you own, including real estate, business assets, collections, cash accounts and digital assets.
Naming the wrong executor
The executor of a will has many responsibilities, from paying debts on behalf of the estate to distributing assets to creditors. Naming someone who is unable or unwilling to take on these responsibilities can leave your surviving family members with serious legal complications. To avoid such problems, choose someone you can trust and who has the acumen and desire to faithfully carry out your wishes.
Failing to update
If you created a will several years ago, you should check in to make sure the directions you laid down then still reflect your wishes. If you have undergone no major life changes since then, you probably don’t have to worry about making revisions, but if you have, then revisions may be necessary. Common reasons for needing to update a will and other estate planning documents include:
- Getting divorced
- Adopting a child
- Major financial changes, such as acquiring (or losing) significant assets
It’s not only your will that may need updating. Other estate planning documents such as powers of attorney, trusts and advance healthcare directives may require review.
Perhaps the biggest estate planning mistake you can make is not creating a will at all. Many people believe they are too young or do not have enough wealth to require a will, but this is often untrue. Almost anyone with any wealth at all can benefit from establishing a thorough estate plan. The future is uncertain, and taking a few simple steps today can ensure your loved ones are taken care of in the manner of your choosing no matter what the future holds.