Do you have your will completed? Whether you are young, old, married or single, a completed will is extremely important. But because this legal document is so complicated many of us put off getting it done. Or we make an effort to get our will done but then make a number of mistakes in the process.
By completing your will you are in control of how things will be done on your behalf. If you do not complete this document your children, property and finances will be dealt with based upon where you live and what the law dictates. And, keep in mind, those laws can change at any time.
Mistakes People Make With Their Will
Forgetting to Keep Your Documents Up To Date
Forgetting to keep your will up-to-date is one of the biggest mistakes most people make.
A recent example of this is the will written by Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was written in October 2004, and never updated. He died February 2, 2014. When he wrote his will in 2004 he was living with, but not married to, Marianne O’Donnell and their one year old son, Cooper. But his circumstances were quite different when he died 10 years later. By that time he and Marianne were the parents of three children. However, they never did get married, and actually were separated when he died.
The will he had written in 2004 designated that the bulk of his estate go to Marianne, as they were together then. He had also setup a trust fund for their son Cooper.
Unfortunately he did not update his will when his two daughters were born or when he and Marianne separated. So there were no trusts left for his girls and now Marianne is left to deal with the will, the courts and the taxation of the estate.
Another time that many people forget to update their will is when:
- their spouse dies or when they get divorced
- their executor dies
- their beneficiaries die
- their financial status changes
This is definitely something you do not want to procrastinate on, because circumstances can change in an instant.
Hiding the Documents
The second biggest mistake that people make with their will is that they hide it and forget to tell anyone where it is. If your will is prepared by a lawyer they will keep a copy. You may either put your copy in a safety deposit box at your bank, or you may choose to keep it at home.
Quite often people do keep it at home but they hide it and no one knows where it is when they need it.
When you write your will you will designate an Executor. As soon as you do that, tell your Executor where they can find your will.
Not Finishing What You Started
People will meet with their lawyer to begin putting their will together, but they forget to finalize it. This can happen when your lawyer asks you for information that you have to go home and find. Or it can happen when you are given a list of questions that you need to make decisions on.
You take the list home figuring that you will work on it, but then life gets in the way, you get busy and you forget. Before you know it a year has gone by and your will is still incomplete.
Choosing the Wrong Person as Your Executor
Choosing the wrong person as your executor can potentially lead to huge problems after you die. The responsibilities of an executor are quite extensive and cannot be taken lightly. Because this role involves so much work you may wish to designate two executors, or you may wish to designate your lawyer to be your executor.
And always ask the person before you designate them as an executor to ensure that they will be okay to complete all of the necessary work on your behalf.
Skipping Important Details
Your will may be simple or quite complicated, depending of course on your personal circumstances. Do you have children and grandchildren that you would like to leave your assets to? Perhaps brothers and sisters as well? Or will you leave all of your remaining assets to a charity?
You need to be very specific when you are drafting your will. If you have tangible assets that you want to distribute, such as jewellery, you need to specify who gets what. If you are leaving money you need to specify how much goes to each person or charity.
You can and should, also include details about your funeral.
Choosing the Wrong Beneficiaries
As you prepare your will be very careful when it comes to choosing your beneficiaries, and never allow yourself to feel pressured into choosing someone in particular. Yes, you may be in a situation where your children are sitting and waiting for your money, but you would rather leave your money to your favorite charity. If that is what you want to do, then do it.
Your will is your own private business, and other then asking your executor if they will in fact be your executor, no one other than your lawyer, and if applicable, your spouse, needs to know the exact details of your will.
Of course, if you have a spouse and\or young children that you are supporting financially, it is definitely best that you provide for them via your remaining assets or through a life insurance policy.
Over to You
Of course not having a will at all is definitely the number one mistake. How about you? Is your will completed? Looking back, do you think you made any mistakes?