If you answered yes to the above question, you've taken an important step to help ensure your family's well-being and can count yourself among the minority. Though the percentage varies by which poll you look at, they all seem to agree that the majority of Americans don’t have a will or trust in place. That being said, let’s chat for a moment about wills…
While you can draft a will on your own using an online template or will kit, there are several reasons why you may not want to go that route. Most people do it to save money, but some important details can be overlooked or forgotten when doing it yourself – details that could eventually cost you much more than the amount you could save. Some of the biggest mistakes that are made include:
Ignoring state law differences. Premade documents may not always take state laws regarding the administration of probate into account. An estate planning professional can make sure you are aware of any state laws that apply to you.
Not revoking an earlier will. Most wills contain language that automatically revokes any preceding will. If you are writing your will totally on your own, you may not realize the necessity of such a clause and neglect to include it.
Assumptions. If you will property to an heir, what happens if you outlive that heir? What if you will an asset to a someone today and that asset is gone when your will is eventually executed? These are important things to think about, but it doesn’t always occur to most people who write their own wills.
Vagueness. Sometimes executors are not given enough power by the language of a will. Sometimes a home will be left to a spouse, but no provision for upkeep of the home during the rest of that widow’s lifetime. Alternate executors are sometimes omitted from wills, and names of nonprofit groups can easily be misspelled, causing complication and possible dispute of charitable intent.
One last note… While a will is an important document, it’s only one piece of what you should have in place. An estate plan will also include things such as an advance medical directive, living trust, or financial power of attorney. Working with someone knowledgeable in estate planning to figure out what documents you need can help give you peace of mind that you’ve covered all your bases.
If you're uncertain about what to do or what you might need, give us a call… As always, we’re here to help.