Your will defines the future of your estate, serving as a roadmap for the distribution of your assets and the fulfillment of your wishes. However, several common mistakes in the process of drafting this crucial estate planning document can disrupt your intentions and make probate difficult for your loved ones.
Successfully navigating these pitfalls to ensure the effectiveness and legality of your will is essential. Here are four prevalent errors to avoid when composing your will.
Leaving out assets
It’s easy to overlook or forget to include some assets in your will, be it bank accounts, properties, investments or personal belongings. When this happens, these assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws, which may not align with your wishes.
Even a well-drafted will can be rendered invalid if improperly executed. For instance, Florida law requires a will to be in writing, signed and witnessed by at least two witnesses. Failure to adhere to these guidelines, such as having insufficient witnesses or improper signatures, can invalidate the entire document.
Out-of-date estate plans
Your estate plan should align with changes in your life. Otherwise, you may leave behind outdated instructions that do not reflect the reality. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths and financial fluctuations are some life events that warrant an update of your will to ensure it is current.
Going it alone
Attempting a DIY will can lead to complications down the line. For instance, you may unknowingly use ambiguous language subject to misinterpretation in your will which could lead to conflict among family members. You may also fail to effectively address complex assets and the tax consequences if you go it alone.
Seeking legal assistance can help avoid such costly mistakes and provide peace of mind knowing that probate should be relatively simple for those you leave behind.