Mistakes to Avoid When Drafting Your Will and Planning Your Estate

Planning your estate may seem like a difficult task, but it is necessary so that you can efficiently transfer your assets and property according to your wishes. With some careful planning, your loved ones can avoid confusion and be well cared for. However, even knowing all the advantages of estate planning and having a well-drafted Will, it is still easy to make mistakes in the process.

Wills are necessary for people of all ages.

One common mistake in estate planning is not getting around to writing a Will at all. At a minimum, you should make sure that you take the time to plan the financial portion of your estate and distribute your assets to your loved ones so they have some amount of security. If you do not have a Will, the state will make decisions for you according to a distribution schedule it has already established. The state tries to pass assets to people it thinks benefit the most, but unfortunately, this may not be in line with your wishes or what is best for your family.

Wills are necessary for all estates of all sizes.

Many people also have difficulty with estate planning because of the misconception that their assets are not large enough to warrant a will. Writing a Last Will and Testament is not just for people with large estates. Most people, when all property and accounts are considered, are worth more than they think. In addition, some possessions may not have great market value, but they do have substantial sentimental value. These are items that you will want to keep in your family, and it is important that you know they will be well cared for.

Avoid leaving all your assets to your spouse.

If you own assets jointly, when you die your spouse is automatically awarded your half of the property. But, what happens if your spouse dies? What will your children receive? What if your spouse remarries?

While there may be certain tax benefits to giving all of your estate to your spouse, there are greater benefits to making sure all family members, especially children, are going to be taken care of. Make sure you think about appointing a guardian for your children, a trustee for any trusts you may have established, and an executor for your will. A lawyer with expertise in estate planning can help you plan for all the possible outcomes of your family’s future.

Creating your own Will does not save in the long run.

It may seem like writing your own Will is less expensive, but “do-it-yourself” wills often do not contain all of the required legal components. As a result, they are frequently ruled invalid. A wrongly worded clause, while well intentioned, can result in lengthy legal battles. Also, anyone who might benefit from your will being invalidated can challenge it. If the challenge is successful, your estate may be required to cover all legal costs. The money you save now could cost your loved ones in the future.

A Will is a flexible document, and nothing is set in stone while you are still living. Your lawyer can always draft amendments to your Will to take into account changing living and financial situations. Establish a Will now and keep it current so that you and your family know your wishes will be followed.

Bernard Krooks is a New York Elder Law and New York Estate Planning lawyer with offices in White Plains, Fishkill, and New York, New York. To learn more, visit Littmankrooks.com.

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