Mistakes to Avoid in Making Your Will
It's one thing to have a will; it's another to have a will that works well. In fact, there are some cases where it is probably better not to have a will at all than to have one that is defective or that fails to accomplish your wishes.
Four Ways You Can Goof Up Your Will:
- Do it yourself. State law dictates what is and what isn't legal in drafting and signing a will. A universal will form obtained at a stationery store or a homemade will based on hearsay advice is risky, to say the least. A good estate-planning attorney can ask the right questions to help you make sure you are covering all the bases in planning the disposition of your estate. To make sure things are done right and for your own peace of mind, it seems well worth the cost to obtain professional help in preparing your will.
- Provide incorrect or unclear information. If you are making a bequest to a charity like your church, it is important to use the full legal name of the organization. This will avoid confusion and possible delays during probate. Be as clear as you can. If you are making a bequest for a specific purpose, spell out your wishes so the recipient will know exactly what you intended. Charitable organizations usually prefer unrestricted bequests, since this allows the board of trustees (or vestry) to apply the gift where it is needed most. Also, many organizations (including your parish) have well-considered policies directing the use of unrestricted estate gifts.
- Hide your will. What's the use of having a valid will that expresses your wishes exactly only to have it so well hidden no one can find it at your death? In addition to storing your will in a safe place, make sure you tell the appropriate persons where to find it.
- Overlook other transfer arrangements. A will provides only one way to transfer assets at death. If this document is not coordinated with other transfer arrangements, enormous problems may result.
For example, what happens if your will provides for an equal division of your estate among family members and your life insurance policy earmarks the death benefit for, say, the oldest child? The life insurance proceeds would go to the older child as well as a portion of the estate identified you your will. Hence, one family member would receive far more than the others-probably not what you would desire.
We want you to have a good will. It is important for you, for your family and for others who may be included to receive a portion of your estate. That is why we have prepared a special will kit. It has several items that can help you review your will. Our will kit is also an excellent resource for anyone who does not yet have a will.
To obtain your free wills kit, fill out our Request for More Information. There is no obligation whatsoever, and your privacy will be respected.