If you’ve kept up with this series, you now know that our ultimate goal in Will drafting is to avoid challenges in the future, and set up an estate that will be simple and straightforward for your family and friends to deal with upon your passing. The following is a list of common mistakes that occur in Will drafting, which may bring about difficulties, and more importantly, which we work to avoid.
Leaving out assets. Including some assets and leaving out others causes confusion. In order to make the process smoother for both your executors and beneficiaries, you need to account for every asset you own, from property to bank accounts and investments.
Improper Witnesses. This is one of the strictest rules in the law surrounding Wills. In order to be valid, a Will must be witnessed by two individuals, neither of whom may be beneficiaries of the Will. The only exception to this, a holographic will, is a case in which the Will is entirely hand written, and requires no witnesses.
Failure to Update when Marital Status Changes. When getting married, divorced, or otherwise, the last thing on your mind might be your Will and estate, but it is essential to make the necessary updates when your marital status changes in order to avoid later difficulty or disputes. Remarrying revokes any former Wills, and failure to address this may leave you unintentionally without a Will. A divorce has the effect of revoking any gifts made to a former spouse, and treating it as though any former spouse has predeceased. However, a separation without legal divorce does not automatically revoke gifts made to the former spouse. It is important to note that this is not, however, the case for powers of attorney.
Taxes. A Will can be a great instrument for tax planning, but when taxes aren’t part of the consideration when estate planning, it may be a detriment to the overall value of your estate. By planning ahead, you can be aware of the tax implications of all the property.
Improperly Executed Trusts. Trusts are often used to provide for family members or friends who may otherwise be unable to provide for themselves. As a result, these can be complex legal instruments requiring proper consideration and must adhere to strict form and function.
Some other technicalities that can slip under the rug in an improperly drafted Will include failure to date the document thus rendering it invalid, being too vague, or failure to properly consider and deal with any businesses you own or are involved in.
When it comes to drafting your Will, we hold ourselves to a standard of perfection. We will work with you to address any and all potential issues, and develop the best strategy for your estate. Avoid falling victim to the above common mistakes in Will drafting, and consult a professional to ensure your Will is valid, clear and will help your loved-ones upon your passing.