6 Common Problems With Wills
Everyone should have a will. No one knows when it’s their time for sure. It could be an accident, sudden illness, or an injury that will make your loved ones wish you had a will. Wills aren’t only for after you’ve passed but also for when you’ve become incapacitated and can’t make decisions. This makes them incredibly useful for a myriad of situations, but they’re not perfect. Some common problems with wills can ruin your plans if you’re not careful.
To learn more about these problems and how to avoid them, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam. We can ensure your will accounts for some common problems.
#1. Failure to Name an Executor and Alternate
An executor is a person who is responsible for making sure your will is read and carried out. This can be an attorney, a family member, a spouse, a child, or anyone else you trust. The only requirements are that they’re someone who is able to legally attend and carry out your will, and that they are of sound mind. Despite how important this is, many will forget to name an executor in their will. It’s difficult to carry out a will when there’s no one to read it or ensure it’s carried out.
These two criteria, while not difficult to meet, are also just as easy to miss. Just because someone is qualified at the moment or while your will was being written doesn’t mean they will be when it’s time to be read. They can become incapacitated, imprisoned, succumb to mental injury or illness, or die before your will needs to be read. This is why it’s important you do not forget to name an alternate executor in case the first is unavailable.
#2. Forgetting About Taxes, Debt, and Other Financial Information
As sad as this might sound, when you die, your taxes and debts don’t go away, especially if you’re married or have children. Unless your will specifically states that certain items are to be used to pay off your debts or taxes, claimants and the government can take them before your beneficiaries do. Even if your beneficiaries can pay your debts and taxes with alternate methods rather than with the assets you’ve left behind, they often don’t get a choice.
#3. Forgetting to Update Your Will
Life goes on after you make your will, and things change. If you get married, divorced, have children or grandchildren, or anything else after writing your will, you should update it to reflect these changes.
Many people want to try to have vague statements to account for these changes, but these vague statements – such as how to split an inheritance – can lead to a lot of problems. Once you pass away or become incapacitated, your executor has to read your will. If it can’t be easily and clearly deciphered, or leaves anything up to question, the state will step in to interpret it. This can lead to your assets and well-being not being taken care of as per your wishes.
#4. Not Using Full, Accurate Names
This may sound silly, but the number of people who use nicknames and first names for their friends and family in their will would shock you. This is another example of when being vague can cause problems and confusion. All you need is for someone to challenge the will because they have the same or similar first name as another beneficiary, or for someone to claim they’re the ones you’re referring to by a nickname.
It would take several witnesses to prove who you are likely referring to. If you are incapacitated, this can put your life and preferred medical care in jeopardy. If you have passed away, the wrong people can gain control of the assets that you intended for someone else.
#5. Forgetting About the Children
We’re not saying that people forget to include their children in their will. Many people make sure to state which children get what and how much. Many even account for new children and new grandchildren so they don’t have to update their will (though they should).
What many parents forget to do in their will, if they even have one, is establish who gets custody of their minor children. You can name a suitable guardian for your children in your will so they won’t be left to the state. You can separate who is responsible for your children’s physical custody and financial assets.
If you’re going to name someone as the guardian of your children, they need to have given you consent beforehand.
#6. Choosing a Bad Executor
It’s hard to know if an executor will do what you need them to do. If you need an executor to do their job, it means you’re unable to make sure they do it. Someone can pretend to be one person, only to do something completely different when you can’t stop them.
This is an inherent weakness of all kinds of estate planning documents that use an executor. If you don’t have someone you trust implicitly, an unbiased professional with no connections or prior experience with your beneficiaries could be a good option.
Solve Common Problems With Wills With MVSK Law
Everyone needs a will, and to avoid the common problems people find or make with wills, you need an experienced attorney by your side to guide you through the process. The attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam have been helping people make, update, and redo their wills for decades. You can trust us to help you avoid or circumvent these problems. Contact us today to begin working on your will.