Everyone needs a will, no matter how old you are or how many assets you have. Many people don’t think about creating a will until later in life, but any estate planning attorney will tell you that it’s important to create a will as soon as you can, and ensure it’s regularly updated throughout your life as your circumstances change. Trying to create your will on your own, leaves you vulnerable to mistakes that can cause your family a lot of headaches and financial strain during an already upsetting time. That being said, our estate planning lawyer in NJ would like to share some insight on some of the biggest mistakes people make in their wills, and how you can avoid them.
The executor is the person who ensures the instructions you leave in your will are carried out properly. You select your executor, and many people choose a spouse, a child, or a long-time family friend. While it is legally possible to choose two or more executors, we always recommend naming a single executor simply because it makes the administration of the will easier. When there is more than one executor there are often disagreements, differences of opinion, and emotions can become heated. It can cause a lot of unnecessary tension within your family, which is probably the last thing you want to pass on.
Being Too Vague About Sentimental Items
Sometimes people will include statements in their will along the lines of: “All of my children shall receive an equal value of my assets.” The problem with this statement is that it’s not exact, which means it’s open to interpretation from all parties. For example, if you have a valuable piece of art, how will that be shared equally among your children? Or if you have two cars and three children, how is “equal value” interpreted in this situation? Be as precise as possible in your instructions to avoid confusion.
Not Updating The Will Often Enough
Your will is not a document you create then stick it in a drawer until you die. You should update your will to reflect your circumstances, including acquiring more properties, starting new businesses, having a child or more children, getting married, getting divorced, and inheriting money or other assets. Your investment portfolio should also be reflected in your will, so we recommend reviewing your will once a year with your estate planning attorney.
Not Working With A Reputable Estate Planning Lawyer in NJ
While there are many websites out there that claim to help you draft your own will, we always recommend working with a professional. An experienced estate management lawyer will ensure your exact wishes are accurately reflected in your will, and they will ensure your instructions are as clear as possible to avoid any nasty litigation between family members.