Your Last Will and Testament will likely be the first estate planning document you create. Your Will may continue to serve as the foundation of your estate plan as your plan grows over the years. Given the important nature of your Will, mistakes should be avoided whenever possible. To get you started, the Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC explain how to avoid making mistakes when creating your Last Will and Testament.
- Believing you do not yet need a Will. Over half of all Americans do not have even a basic Will in place because they (mistakenly) believe that a Will is only necessary if you have a fortune to distribute and/or children to protect. The truth, however, is that every adult can benefit from a Will. A Will allows you to decide who will administer your estate, prevents the state from deciding what happens to the assets you own (regardless of their monetary value), and lets you nominate a guardian for your minor children.
- Using a DIY Will form. Most of us 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; however, you are more likely to cost your loved ones more time and money than you save when it comes time to probate that Will. DIY Wills are notorious for including outdated language and lacking state-specific laws, failing to successfully interact with other estate planning documents, and failing to completely distribute an estate causing the need for an intestate estate probate.
- Choosing the wrong person to be your Executor. People often 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. The result can be delays or costly mistakes when it comes to probating the estate. To avoid this common mistake, appoint someone who will be able to focus on the practical tasks associated with administering your estate despite their grief. Someone who has some financial and/or legal is also a plus when appointing an Executor.
- Including gifts to minor children. 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.
- Thinking your Will can accomplish everything. A Will can accomplish many things, including the distribution of your entire estate after you are gone; however, your Will may not be able to accomplish all your estate planning goals. For example, a Will does not help in the event of your incapacity, nor can it help provide guidance on issues related to end-of-life medical decisions or funeral and burial wishes.
- Disinheriting heirs without explaining that decision. You are free to distribute your estate in any way you wish and to anyone you wish, including disinheriting anyone you want and for any reason you want. Leaving an heir or likely beneficiary out of your Will without explanation, however, increases the likelihood of a challenge to the Will. Acknowledging the heir or beneficiary and making your intent to disinherit him/her clear within your Will is the best way to decrease the likelihood of confusion that could lead to litigation.
Contact an Essex Junction Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you have questions or concerns about creating your Last Will and Testament, or you are ready to get started on your estate plan, contact an experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorney at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.