Making a will can feel like a complex and often daunting task, however carefully planning your estate is an important part of ensuring your family is protected financially in the event of your passing. Through consultation with an expert wills and estates lawyer, you can ensure that your personal assets are distributed in the way you intend and that you avoid the common errors often associated with wills and estate planning.
Regularly update your will: One of the most common mistakes to make in the Wills and Estate planning process is to fail to regularly update your will to account for changes that have taken place within your family such as births, deaths, divorces, new property, etc.
It is a common error for family members to be left confused by an out of date will, which does not reflect the deceased’s current assets or responsibilities towards other family members. It is therefore wise to regularly update your will with consultation from your lawyer to ensure that these changes are reflected in your important documents.
Prepare for illness or disability: A common mistake made during the Wills and Estate planning process is failing to prepare for a long-term illness or disability. Unexpected difficulties such as these can have devastating consequences on your personal and financial affairs. It is therefore important to plan in advance with the advice of your estate lawyer, when making a will. These decisions which should be put in writing include; who will handle your finances, make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapable and who will care for your children. Appointing a legal power of attorney can ensure your family is protected in the event of an illness or debilitating disability, and it is an important step in any estate planning process to ensure that your power of attorney remains updated on your intentions.
Take the impact of debts and taxes into consideration: A common error made when making plans to financially protect your family after death is failing to take into consideration the impact of debts and taxes. This may mean that your beneficiaries may receive substantial amount less than you intended, and in other cases may mean that your beneficiaries become liable for any debt that you have accrued. Similarly, it is important to take into account any taxes that may become payable on certain types of property that you leave to your beneficiaries. It is therefore important to gain a clear understanding of these unexpected costs when preparing your will and estate.
Use a professional: Using a professional to prepare your will and estate will decrease your potential for future problems arising later. Whilst you may personally prepare your will and estate documents, doing so leaves you at risk of having documents that are not legally enforceable or are susceptibility to challenges. Hiring a professional estate lawyer to prepare your will and estate ensures your peace of mind, and saves your beneficiaries from paying costly fees later to defend your will and intentions.
Do not procrastinate: An all too common error associated with will and estate planning, is the failure to plan at all. If you are in the process of beginning a family, have specific intentions for your medical decisions should you become incapacitated, or have accrued a substantial amount of personal assets, it is time for you to commence estate planning. Providing your family with a clear and enforceable estate plan ensures that your intentions will be fulfilled and your property distributed in the way that you intend.