5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Drafting Your Will
Discover essential tips to ensure your will accurately reflects your wishes. Learn about the 5 common mistakes to avoid when drafting your last will and testament.
4 min read
At Sloan Firm, we know that drafting a will is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out after your passing. However, like individuals in any region, many people in Texas and New Mexico can sometimes encounter common mistakes when creating their wills, which can lead to unintended consequences and legal challenges.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss five common mistakes to avoid when drafting your will as well as emphasize the importance of consulting a Wills and Trust attorney.
Let’s get started.
1. Procrastinating or Not Creating a Will
Any Wills and Trusts attorney will tell you that one of the most significant mistakes people make is procrastinating or not creating a will at all. Regardless of your age or financial situation, having a will is essential. Here are some consequences of not having a will:
a. Intestacy Laws: If you pass away without a will (intestate), the state will determine how your assets are distributed based on intestacy laws. This may not align with your wishes or the needs of your loved ones.
b. Family Disputes: The absence of a will can lead to family disputes over your estate, potentially causing lasting rifts among your heirs.
c. Delayed Distribution: Without a will, the probate process can be more complicated and time-consuming, causing delays in distributing your assets to your beneficiaries.
To avoid these consequences, it's crucial to take action and create a will that reflects your wishes and safeguards your legacy. If you live in New Mexico or Texas, we encourage you to reach out to one of our probate attorneys at Sloan Firm if you have any questions.
2. Not Seeking Professional Legal Advice
Some individuals opt for DIY will templates or online forms, thinking it's a cost-effective solution. However, this approach can lead to significant risks and complications. Here's why you should look into trusts and estates lawyers near Texas or New Mexico:
a. Legal Knowledge: A wills and trusts attorney specializes in estate planning and understands the intricacies of state laws, ensuring your will complies with all legal requirements.
b. Customization: Your circumstances are unique, and a DIY template may not address your specific needs. An attorney can tailor your will to your individual situation.
c. Avoiding Pitfalls: DIY wills often lack the necessary details or provisions, which can result in disputes or asset distribution problems.
At Sloan Firm, our probate attorneys want you to strongly consider the potential issues that can arise from DIY wills, such as unclear or missing clauses, leading to unintended consequences or legal battles. In other words, seeking professional legal advice from a wills and trusts attorneys is a wise investment in securing your legacy.
3. Failing to Update the Will
Your will should not be a static document. Life events can significantly impact your estate plan, making it crucial to keep your will up-to-date. Here's why:
a. Changing Circumstances: Marriage, divorce, the birth of children, or significant changes in your financial situation can all impact how you want to distribute your assets.
b. New Assets or Debts: Acquiring new assets or incurring debts can affect the overall value of your estate, necessitating adjustments to your will.
c. Beneficiary Changes: Relationships with beneficiaries may evolve over time, requiring updates to reflect your current wishes.
To ensure your will accurately reflects your intentions, make it a habit to periodically review and update it, especially after significant life events. Equally important, a wills and trusts attorney from our law firm is on standby to answer any questions you may have about adjusting your will.
4. Ambiguity and Poorly Defined Terms
A will is a legal document, and clarity is paramount to avoid potential disputes among your beneficiaries. Ambiguity or poorly defined terms can lead to confusion and legal challenges.
Here are some examples of vague language to avoid: a. Unclear Beneficiary Descriptions: Using vague terms like "my children" instead of naming specific individuals can lead to disputes over who should inherit.
b. Ambiguous Bequests: Failing to specify the exact assets or amounts you intend to leave to beneficiaries can cause confusion.
c. Ambivalent Wishes: If your will contains contradictory or unclear instructions, it can be challenging for the executor to carry out your intentions.
To prevent such issues, use specific and unambiguous language in your will, leaving no room for interpretation or disputes.
5. Not Appointing a Backup Executor or Beneficiary
When drafting your will, you'll likely name an executor responsible for managing your estate. However, it's essential to appoint a backup executor in case your primary choice is unable or unwilling to fulfill the role. Here's why:
a. Unexpected Events: Your chosen executor may predecease you or become unable to serve due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances.
b. Smooth Transition: Designating an alternative executor ensures a smooth transition of responsibilities without delays or complications.
In addition to naming a backup executor, it's also crucial to name alternative beneficiaries in your will. This is important because if a primary beneficiary predeceases you or is unable to inherit, having alternatives in place avoids potential distribution issues.
Talk to a Wills and Trusts Attorney Today
Creating a well-drafted and up-to-date will is a critical aspect of responsible estate planning. To avoid the common mistakes outlined in this article and ensure your wishes are carried out precisely, we encourage you to reach out to us.
Don't procrastinate; take action today to protect your legacy and provide for your loved ones. Your wills and trusts attorney will guide you through the process, helping you draft a clear and legally sound will that reflects your intentions, taking into account the specific laws and regulations of Texas and New Mexico. Secure your future and the future of your loved ones by making informed decisions about your estate.