What Are the Biggest Mistakes People Make When Making a Will?

Female Friend Helping Senior Woman To Complete Last Will And Testament At Home

Posted by heritagelaw on Feb 2, 2023 in Blog, Wills & Estate

Creating an estate plan and will can be a complicated process, and getting it right makes the world of difference for your loved ones.

If your will is not properly prepared, your family may be required to go through a probate process, which can be financially and emotionally stressful.

To protect your loved ones and final wishes, as well as safeguard your assets and prevent family disputes, you need to make sure that your will is legally sound.

To help you avoid any issues during your estate planning, here are some of the biggest mistakes people make when making a will:

Making a Will Only For Your Death

While wills are often seen as a document that comes into play following your passing, a comprehensive will addresses what happens while you are still alive.

This involves including additional documentation, such as a personal directive.

A personal directive is a written and legally binding set of instructions for caregivers should you become unable to communicate your own healthcare wishes.

You can also appoint a power of attorney to act on your behalf to manage your finances and property should you become incapacitated.

By combining these documents, you can rest assured that your wishes will be followed during life and after death.

Including Your Burial Wishes

It may make sense to include your funeral instructions in your will to ensure they are followed, but wills are typically read weeks after the funeral.

To ensure your burial wishes are respected, write a letter to your family or executor explaining what you want and make sure you tell them about this document and where to locate it.

You can also have a conversation with your loved ones or executor about what you want in regard to your funeral, such as if you want to be buried or cremated.

This also takes the huge burden of planning your funeral off the shoulders of your family.

Choosing the Wrong Executor

The executor of your will is the individual that will ensure your wishes are met when it comes to your beneficiaries and assets.

This should be a reliable person that you trust will execute your will fairly and with the best intentions.

Unfortunately, not everyone is up to the task and may be too busy to handle your affairs or too nervous to take on such a huge responsibility.

Always discuss your decision with someone before choosing them as an executor, and you can always update your will if things change.

Not Updating Your Will

It’s important to note that making a will isn’t a one-time event. There are many changes that can happen in your life in which you should update your will.

Any time you experience a major change or milestone in your life, such as getting married, having children, having grandchildren, buying a house, etc., you should update your will to reflect new beneficiaries and new assets.

You should also update your will if you choose to change your executor and beneficiaries (if you’ve had a change of heart or if your executor/beneficiaries pass away).

Updating your will is as easy as contacting an estate planning lawyer in Edmonton.

Forgetting Beneficiary Designations

lawyer consults young couple about their estate planning

When you sign up for an insurance policy or financial account, you likely added someone as a beneficiary.

These are the individuals who will take possession of an account or receive insurance benefits.

In most cases, beneficiary designations will override whatever you have detailed in your will.

This means that if you never changed your beneficiary on an account from your ex-partner yet put in your will that you want your kids to take over your accounts, what you state in your will won’t matter.

When things change in regards to who you want as beneficiaries, make sure these changes are reflected in your personal accounts and insurance policies as well.

Leaving Out Your Pets

Many people don’t think about detailing the care of their pet in a will, but it’s important that you make a written arrangement in advance.

If a friend or family member agrees to adopt your pet in the event of your passing, you can include this arrangement in your will.

If you can’t find someone willing to care for your pet, you can arrange an adoption through a local animal rescue along with a donation from your estate.

You can also set up a “pet trust” that is administered to pay for expenses such as vet bills, food, etc.

Not Including Trust Provisions for Minors

When you have children that you want to inherit money or other assets, you probably don’t want them to receive a huge lump sum when they are still too young and not yet financially responsible.

You can include trust provisions in your will that restrict their access to their inheritance by holding the assets in trust until they reach a certain age that you specify.

Or, you can set up the trust to be dispersed to the beneficiary a little at a time.

If you are considering setting up a trust, it’s recommended that you speak with an expert wills lawyer.

Leaving Out Digital Assets

In today’s world, many people have online assets such as banking login information, social media accounts, email accounts, and digital photo galleries.

Digital assets can hold financial and sentimental value, while login information can be misused if they fall into the wrong hands.

In your will, you can bequeath your digital information and property to someone you trust, so they can access your accounts, gather information, and close the accounts.

Using a Lawyer That Doesn’t Specialize in Wills and Estates

You should always speak to a wills lawyer who is knowledgeable about wills and estates to ensure that no details are missed and that your unique wishes are recorded and respected.

Our team of estate planning lawyers in Edmonton understands that every estate has different needs.

We offer a wide range of estate planning services to help ensure that all necessary details are covered.

Get in touch with us today for more information.