Writing your Will is not only a way to decide who inherits your assets when you’ve passed, but its ultimate goal is also to avoid challenges in the future – setting up an estate that will be simple and straightforward for your family and friends to deal with upon your passing and save you money. Unfortunately, without a professional to draft one correctly for you, there are often mistakes that make Will drafting riskier or create problems down the line. 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.

1 – 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.

2 – 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 handwritten, and requires no witnesses.

3 – 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 difficulties 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.

4 -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. For example, you may name different properties to go to different people, but if you aren’t aware of capital gain taxes your estate can have, you may end up with a plan that forces the sale of some of your assets, which ultimately can leave a beneficiary unaccounted for. By planning ahead, you can be aware of the tax implications of all the property.

5 – Improperly Executed Trusts.

Trusts are often used to provide for family members or loved ones 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.

6 – Being Vague or Not Specific.

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.

7 – Forgetting to Name Alternate Beneficiaries or Executors

It’s always a good idea to name alternative choices for different future scenarios. This might include if someone predeceases you, or is simply unable to act as an executor or trustee. Having alternatives named avoids the possibility of a gap in your plan, which may ultimately require a Court to address.

8 – Insufficient Minor Provisions

It’s always a good idea to create trust provisions for the potential circumstance for a minor receiving a share in your estate. Without the appropriate provisions, the government might need to step in on a minor’s behalf, and that might not be what you want for your loved ones.

While these are common mistakes, this isn’t an exhaustive list. When it comes to drafting your Will, we 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 us to ensure your Will is valid, clear and will help your loved-ones upon your passing.