Given that a Last Will and Testament typically serves as the foundation of a comprehensive estate plan, care should be taken to avoid making a mistake when creating your Will. Nevertheless, there are some common mistakes people make. To help you avoid making them, a Fargo estate planning attorney at German Law Group discusses common mistakes people make when creating a Last Will and Testament.
- Failing to work with an estate planning attorney. In today’s electronic age, it is tempting to turn to the internet for everything, including legal forms. It may seem as though you are saving both time and money using a DIY Will form that you find online. You are more likely to cost your loved ones considerably more time and money than you save when it comes time to probate that Will. DIY Wills are notorious for failing to completely distribute an estate, being outdated and lacking state-specific laws, and failing to interact properly with other estate planning documents.
- Choosing the wrong Executor. Testators (the person creating a Will) often fail to take the time to contemplate the best choice for their Executor. Instead, they simply fill in the name of a spouse, adult child, or close friend, as the Executor of their estate without giving any real thought as to whether that person is the best choice or not. Doing this can lead to delays or costly mistakes when it comes to probating the estate. Ideally, you should choose someone who will be able to focus on the practical tasks associated with administering your estate despite their grief and who has some financial and/or legal knowledge that can be used during the probate of your estate.
- Failing to distribute the entire estate. This mistake is particularly common when going the DIY route. DIY legal forms are notorious for being incomplete and lacking instructions. Specifically, DIY Will forms often fail to completely distribute an entire estate because additional documents are frequently required to do so. The DIY forms, however, fails to mention that additional documents may be needed. The failure to completely distribute the estate results in the need to open up an intestate estate probate which can significantly prolong the probate process and completely defeats the purpose of making a Will in the first place.
- Making direct gifts to minor children. Understandably, as a parent you want to provide for your minor children; however, by law, a minor cannot inherit anything from your estate. Therefore, leaving assets to your minor child in your Will serves only to complicate the probate of your estate because a court may then be forced to decide who will guard those assets until your child reaches the age of majority.
- Disinheriting heirs without an explanation. Of course, you are free to distribute your estate in any way you wish and to anyone you wish. Consequently, you can disinherit anyone you want without being required to provide a reason; however, when you simply leave an obvious beneficiary out of your Will without explanation it dramatically increases the likelihood of a challenge to the Will. It is best to acknowledge the individual and be clear that it was, indeed, your intent to leave that individual out of your Will.
- Failing to recognize the need for additional estate planning tools. A Will can accomplish many things, including the distribution of your entire estate after you are gone; however, your Will does not help in the event of your incapacity. Your Will also does not help provide guidance on issues related to end of life medical decisions nor is it the best place to mention your funeral and burial wishes.
Contact a Fargo Estate Planning Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about mistakes to avoid in your Will, or if you are ready to get started creating your Will, contact a Fargo estate planning attorney at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.