The process of making your will can prove not just stressful but actually downright emotionally difficult. However, if you truly care for the long-range horizon your remaining loved ones face, then it’s essential to make a will. If you have a life of hard work behind you, then you deserve to have your money and property distributed according to your values and wishes after you pass on. Probate and wills need to be professionally handled to ensure the following mistakes are avoided.
1. Don’t forget to update your will
Over the course of your life, things do change. When was the last update or change to your existing will? Has it been a decade? Has it been longer? Have grandchildren shown up since then? Did any kids divorce or remarry? Did you divorce or remarry? Are stepchildren now in the family? Keep in mind that stated verbal wishes lack any legal power that a written will holds. Can you be certain that your financial abundance will flow to your cherished grandkids after your demise, as you want, or will it possibly go to other parts of your family?
In a similar vein, can you chance your whole estate of property and money at the time of your passing going to your separated wife, you can’t stand, instead of a woman you love and now live with? On top of all this, you might have named an executor that’s since died, which leaves a tremendously problematic issue when it comes to who will be appointed to carry out your will’s details.
2. Avoid preparing a will illegally
Your will has to get both signed and dated by you personally, and this must happen in front of a pair of witnesses, both of whom must be 18 or older. They must also sign the will as well with you in presence. The two witnesses cannot be individuals or spouses of individuals who are named beneficiaries that are going to inherit any portions of your estate.
3. Not preparing for the worst possible outcome
If you happen to die tomorrow, you probably can rest assured that your spouse can care for an infant child. However, what might happen to your kids if you and your spouse both died together simultaneously? You need to appoint a particular guardian to take care of your children, in the unlikely event that you and your spouse both perish together, and that guardian would have legal custody over them until they reach the age of 18. Your guardianship appointment needs to be in writing, dated, and signed in order to be legally inclusive within your overall will. If you fail to appoint a guardian and you leave behind children under the age of 18 without another parent, then a court will wind up appointing the guardians. The court’s decision might not be guardians that you yourself would have chosen for your children.
4. Making the assumption that you actually own the home you reside in
Can you be certain that you would actually own the home you currently live in if both you and your spouse died tomorrow? Whole-ownership can be complicated by situations like joint tenants who have equal rights to the entire property, or tenants in common where you each own shares in a property but the shares are differing. In the case of joint tenants, the ownership of the property should transfer automatically to the other existing owner if only one of you passes away. So, you can not transfer property ownership within your will if you die but a spouse remains. If you and your living partner are instead tenants in common, then the property does not automatically transfer in the event of one’s death, but you can pass your share of the property on to someone else through your will.
5. Not naming an executor who is suitable
Three traits you need to look for in a potential executor are trustworthiness, responsibility, and an ability to maintain calm under pressure. Your executor will be responsible for distributing your listed estate to the named parties according to the terms and conditions of your will. You shouldn’t risk the financial future of your surviving loved ones by choosing or naming someone who is unreliable.
If you currently or ever have any doubt at all regarding your will, consult an estate planning professional or attorney.