A Last Will and Testament will likely be the first estate planning document you create. Although the concept of a Will is rather straight-forward, that doesn’t prevent mistakes from being made during the creation of a Will. To help prevent you from making them, the Londonderry estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices discuss the top five mistakes you should avoid when creating your Last Will and Testament.
- Using a “DIY” Will form. It may seem as though you are saving both time and money using a DIY Will form that you find online. In reality, you are more likely to 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 DIY Wills are notorious for failing to completely distribute an estate, being outdated and lacking state-specific laws, and failing to interact properly with other estate planning documents.
- Choosing 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. Understandably, as a parent 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.
- Counting on your Will to accomplish everything. A Will can accomplish many things, including the distribution of your entire estate after you are gone; however, there are things it cannot do. For example, your Will does not help in the event of your incapacity. Your Will also does not help provide guidance on issues related to end of life medical decisions nor is it the best place to mention your funeral and burial wishes. To accomplish those goals, you will need additional estate planning tools and strategies.
Contact Londonderry Estate Planning Attorneys
If you have additional questions, please contact the Londonderry estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling our New Hampshire office at (603) 894-4141 or our Massachusetts office (978) 969-0331 to learn more or visit our website at http://dadlawoffices.com .
A common misperception is that you need to amass a small fortune before a Will becomes necessary. The truth is that as soon as you become an independent adult you should execute a Will because every adult can benefit from having a Will in place.
An original, signed copy of your Will is needed to probate your estate. Ideally, an original copy should be given to your Executor or kept in a safe place where it can be easily located. Another original copy should be given to your estate planning attorney for safekeeping.
You should review your Will as a matter of routine every three to five years during your working years. Certain life events, such as births and deaths as well as marriage and divorce, should prompt a more immediate revision of your Will.
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