There are some common mistakes that people make when planning their estate and doing a will which results in their estate not being distributed each year or the wrong message being given to the beneficiaries of the will after you have passed away.
1. Forgetting to Look at it each Year.
This is the most common mistake as, with the business of life we find that our situation changes frequently but that this may not be reflected in updates to our wills because something has happened like a marriage, a divorce, the birth of a child or the death of a relative and provision has not been made for this event in the will.
2. Forgetting the Residuary Clause.
Many wills do not include a clause stating what happens if there are assets left over after the estate has been distributed which can lead to confusion.
3. Not having Contingencies.
Sometimes life is unpredictable. Having contingencies for the death of someone else in the will or for other life events can help to give certainty if unpredictable things happen after you write your will.
4. Not having an appropriate substitute.
Sometimes people don’t have an appropriate executor when the time comes because they have moved overseas, are now on bad terms or there is some other reason that they are no longer available. If something like this has happened, it is essential to ensure that the executor in the will is changed to something appropriate.
5. Not understanding all the laws affecting wills.
Most people are unaware of the Family Provision Legislation in Most States of Australia which requires that a person making a will give adequate provision for their family in the will. This can lead to the will being invalid or at least open to challenge.
6. Being overly specific.
Sometimes specific dollar amounts are not useful because they are only relevant at a particular point in time. If you specify a particular dollar amount, it may become out of proportion by the time that it is in use.
7. Beneficiaries as Witnesses
This seriously undermines the authority of a will as it makes the signature capable of the accusation that it was obtained through fraud.
8. Not considering the personal
Sometimes a will is so focused on the financial aspects of the estate it fails to leave an intimation of the personal feelings of the person or the loved ones around them. This can be a serious mistake if it leaves the family of a deceased person not knowing their true feelings about them.
9. Holding back important information
Your lawyer is not a mind reader and is bound by their professional obligation to keep everything that you tell them confidential. for this reason, do not hold back any information which may become important in the drafting of your will even if to you it may seem embarrassing or trivial.
Occasionally people do their estate planning in a very big rush expecting the worst to come about in a very short period. This can lead to mistakes in the estate planning process.
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