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Avoid These Common Mistakes Attorneys See in People’s Wills

If you haven’t created a will yet, now is the time to act. A recent survey found that a shockingly high number of Americans, about a third, haven’t yet made a will. They think their assets aren’t significant enough to designate who gets them, but that’s a common misperception. Even if you have minimal assets, you should create a will to avoid confusion after you are gone. Otherwise, it could put more stress on your family as they try to guess your wishes.

So: Now you know why making a will is important. But as you think about your estate, you should also be aware of some of the most common mistakes lawyers say they encounter when clients make wills. Here are four to avoid.

1. Skipping the Will

The first is, as you may have guessed, not making a will at all. This puts an emotional burden on your family at an already stressful time. Creating a will can answer small questions they may never have thought to ask you.

Some people say they don’t want to think about their death or find it too depressing. Alas, we all have to deal with this reality. Get it done and out of the way, and then you don’t have to think about it again anytime soon.

2. Choosing More Than One Executor

If you worry about choosing an executor for your will, you may settle on multiple people instead of one — for instance, you may not want to pick between two children and instead name them both co-executors. This is a bad idea.

Your executor takes on the legal responsibility for fulfilling your financial obligations when you die. There is a good deal of work involved in the task, even if you don’t have a large estate. Putting two people in the mix means they may disagree on how to carry out things. Arguments could break out over selling estate assets or how much an asset should go for, how to ready a home for sale, and more. Plus, people get understandably emotional following the passing of someone they love, raising the possibility of disagreements.

3. Failing to Update the Will As You Age

Your life circumstances change as you age, and your will should reflect those changes. Perhaps you get divorced or you have grandchildren or one of your kids wins the lottery and doesn’t need to worry about money. Those are all things that would impact your intentions. Review your will every couple of years to ensure it reflects your current life circumstances.

4. Being Too Vague About Your Intentions

The more specific you can be in your will, the better. You may know, for instance, that two of your children want an heirloom handed down by your parents. If you don’t say in your will who gets it, your kids may fight over it. While you may feel anxious about choosing one or the other, your family will be better off if you lay out your exact wishes, regardless of who may feel miffed. Don’t leave things to interpretation, as everyone will interpret things differently.

Do you have questions about making a will? Jay can steer you toward resources that help. Reach out today to get guidance and referrals.


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