Your last will and testament is one of the most important documents you will ever execute. But while you might think you have a will in place that satisfies your objectives, this may not be the case. There are a number of formalities that must be complied with when creating a valid will — and certain pitfalls that are important to avoid. Below are common mistakes people make when drafting a will.
Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Executor
Your executor is the person who will administer your estate after you pass. It’s vital to choose who will act in this capacity very carefully. They should be reliable, trustworthy, honest, and emotionally grounded. In addition, before you name them as executor in your will, you should make sure they are comfortable with accepting the position and the responsibilities that come with it. An alternate executor should also be named should the named executor be unable to serve.
Mistake #2: Not Selecting Your Beneficiaries Carefully
There are many ways a will can be structured to ensure your chosen beneficiaries receive the assets you intended them to have. Making a general bequest and leaving everything in your estate to one person may be the easiest way to leave your property behind, but it doesn’t work for every situation. While there’s no rule regarding how to select your beneficiaries, it’s crucial to consider which of your loved ones will appreciate or benefit from each asset.
Mistake #3: Not Selecting a Guardian for Minor Children
If you have minor children, it’s crucial to name a guardian for them in your will. The guardian should be someone who shares your values, has a stable financial situation, suitable living arrangements, and parenting skills. When considering who would be an appropriate guardian, you should also take age and health into account. If you do not choose someone to act in this role, the court would appoint a guardian for your child in the event the unexpected occurs.
Mistake #4: Using a Boilerplate Template
Some people think they can create a will using a boilerplate template they’ve found online. However, this can be risky. While a boilerplate last will and testament can sometimes work if you have very few assets and beneficiaries, you may want to address certain items that do not fit within the template. In many instances, the boilerplate language and provisions may not adhere to your specific needs.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to Update Your Will
Once your will has been drafted and executed, it’s essential not to forget about it. Your will should be reviewed and updated from time to time to ensure it reflects your current wishes and financial situation. Any acquisition of new property or changes in your family — including divorce or the birth of a child — may require you to amend your will. If only a few changes must be made, this can usually be done with a codicil. But if substantial changes are needed, it may be in your best interests to draft a new instrument.
Contact an Experienced Trusts and Estates Attorney
Having a skilled trusts and estates attorney draft your last will and testament is vital to ensure it complies with state law and reflects your final wishes. Located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Hess Law Firm works with clients throughout the Northwest suburbs and Chicago area for a wide variety of estate planning matters, including creating wills. Call (847) 367-6990 or email email@example.com today to schedule an appointment.