Whether you are creating your Last Will and Testament for the first time, or you are updating an existing Will, care should be taken to avoid making mistakes given the important nature of your Will. The Bellevue estate planning attorneys at Legacy Estate Planning, LLC explain five of the of the most common mistakes people make when creating a Will.
- Using a DIY Will form found on the internet. In today’s electronic age, it is tempting to turn to the internet for everything, including legal forms. It may seem as though you are saving both time and money using a DIY Will form that you find online. What is more likely to happen, however, is that you will cost your loved ones considerably more time and money than you save when it comes time to probate that Will. DIY Wills are notorious for failing to completely distribute an estate, being outdated and lacking state-specific laws, and failing to interact properly with other estate planning documents.
- Naming the wrong person as your Executor. Testators (the person creating a Will) often fail to take the time to contemplate the best choice for their Executor. Instead, they simply fill in the name of a spouse, adult child, or close friend, as the Executor of their estate without giving any real thought as to whether that person is the best choice or not. Doing this can lead to delays or costly mistakes when it comes to probating the estate. Ideally, you should choose someone who will be able to focus on the practical tasks associated with administering your estate despite their grief and who has some financial and/or legal knowledge that can be used during the probate of your estate.
- Failing to distribute the entire estate. This mistake is particularly common when going the DIY route. DIY legal forms are notorious for being incomplete and lacking instructions. Specifically, DIY Will forms often fail to completely distribute an entire estate because additional documents are frequently required to do so. The DIY forms, however, fails to mention that additional documents may be needed. The failure to completely distribute the estate results in the need to open up an intestate estate probate which can significantly prolong the probate process and completely defeats the purpose of making a Will in the first place.
- Making direct gifts to minor children in your Will. As a parent (or a grandparent) you want to provide for your minor children; however, by law, a minor cannot inherit anything from your estate. Therefore, leaving assets to your minor child in your Will serves only to complicate the probate of your estate because a court may then be forced to decide who will guard those assets until your child reaches the age of majority. A better option is to also create a trust and leave those assets to minors using the trust. An added benefit is the ability to stagger the inheritance you leave to children or young adults instead of gifting a lump sum.
- Leaving heirs out (disinheriting them) without an explanation. Of course, you are free to distribute your estate in any way you wish and to anyone you wish. Consequently, you can disinherit anyone you want without being required to provide a reason; however, when you simply leave an obvious beneficiary out of your Will without explanation it dramatically increases the likelihood of a challenge to the Will. It is best to acknowledge the individual and be clear that it was, indeed, your intent to leave that individual out of your Will.
Contact Bellevue Estate Planning Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding mistakes made when creating your Will, or if you are ready to get started in your Will, contact the experienced Bellevue estate planning attorneys at Legacy Estate Planning, LLC by calling (425) 455-6788 to schedule an appointment.