Life may give you chances to learn from your mistakes. But that won’t happen after your death.
Mistakes you make when writing your Will can leave your dependents in financial and mental distress as they sort out the distribution of your assets.
On the other hand, if you leave behind a proper Will, your wishes, and desires regarding the distribution of your assets transform into actual provisions for your loved ones.
If you’re in the process of writing your last will and testament and want to ensure you’ve included all the necessary information, here are the 11 most common mistakes to avoid when writing your Will.
1. Using Invalid Witnesses
A relative wanting to get a share of your assets and property can challenge your Will in court if you use invalid witnesses.
So, what makes for valid witnesses? The witnesses shouldn’t be beneficiaries of your Will and they should sign the Will in your presence. In addition, valid witnesses must be:
- 18 years or older.
- UK citizens.
2. Not Storing Copies
You should always have a copy of your Will in a safe place separate from the original document. This action prevents losing both documents in the event they go missing when you’re moving items around the house.
Ensure there’s a copy stored somewhere safe like a safety deposit box, with a trusted family member, friend, or your attorney. Ensure that someone close to you knows where you stored the copies and how to access them when necessary.
3. Excluding Step-Children
Step-children may not be blood relatives, but they’re still part of your family.
It’s very common to have step-children excluded by blood relatives when distributing an inheritance, especially when their share is not clearly mentioned in your Will.
So, make sure to include your step-children in your Will if you want them to inherit from you.
4. Not Being Specific
Your dependents might not know what your wishes are regarding the distribution of your assets after you’re gone, so it’s crucial to be specific about your desires when writing your Will. Include details about what you want to happen to your assets and how you want them distributed.
If you’re clear in your instructions, your executor will distribute your assets and property appropriately.
5. Appointing Incompetent Executors
An executor is responsible for distributing your assets as instructed in your Will and carrying out duties required by the law. In addition, an executor must:
- be organised,
- have reasonable expectations of the scope and complexity of their duties, and
- be financially responsible.
When writing your Will, you’ll need to appoint an executor who has your best interests and final wishes at heart. Therefore, always select a trustworthy and competent executor.
6. Having a Minor as a Beneficiary
It’s important to remember that minors aren’t legally recognized to be able to manage their own assets until they reach adulthood (age 18).
Name a guardian in your Will to handle the finances if you want to leave money or property to a minor. If your Will names a minor as beneficiary, the State will appoint a guardian and usually ask the child’s relatives to take on this role.
7. Forgetting To Mention All Your Assets
It’s challenging to pass on an asset if it’s excluded in a Will. Take time to think about your possessions to ensure you don’t forget any assets or property so everything gets divided as you’d intended.
You need to include all of your assets in a Will, including bank accounts, real estate holdings, and cars.
Additionally, you should include any life insurance policies, savings bonds, and other investments with cash values. If you forget to mention one of these assets, it could mess up the distribution process.
8. Not Getting Professional Advice
The biggest mistake you can make when writing your Will is not getting professional help when drafting it. While some people may think they’re capable of writing their own wills, they can seldom do a thorough job.
A lawyer or other qualified professional can help you avoid common mistakes and ensure that your wishes are fulfilled in the event of your untimely death.
Professionals help you avoid probate by using legal tools like trusts which keep your assets out of probate while allowing you to control how they’re distributed after death.
You can approach any of the several legal professionals with excellent track records who provide last will and testament services in the UK.
9. Failing to Appoint Guardians
If you have children, the last mistake you want to make is failing to appoint a guardian for them in your Will. Without a guardian, the courts usually decide who will take care of minor children in the case they get orphaned.
Appointing a guardian guarantees the person raising your children is someone of your choosing.
10. Not Updating Your Will
If you’re in a stable relationship and have no plans to get married or have children, it may be unnecessary to update your Will. But, if circumstances come along that affect the distribution of your assets, your Will needs to be updated.
If you decide to create a new Will, leave a track of where it’s stored so your loved ones find it when needed.
11. Mental Incapacity
Ensure you are of sound mind when writing your will. Being of sound mind means you’re not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and understand what you’re doing.
To avoid any disputes, you must have full capacity when writing and signing your will for it to be valid.
After your death, it’s easier for everyone involved to have an understanding of how your assets should be distributed if your Will is accurate.
But writing your will doesn’t have to be a tedious task. You can get professional legal advice and assistance to eliminate any challenges your loved ones may encounter because of mistakes.
Of course, when major life changes occur, these can affect people who rightfully deserve an inheritance. So it’s essential to update and review your Will periodically.