An estimated 60% of Americans currently don’t have their wills in place. The reasons they give for neglecting to do so include being either too young or too busy. Numerous people have told me they’ve thought about it but just haven’t gotten around to taking care of it yet. People tend to procrastinate when it comes to doing unpleasant things. People generally don’t like to think about their own mortality. Not having a Will in place when you die is known as dying intestate.
Should you die intestate, the Florida Statutes control who inherits your estate and to what degree and not you. Of the 40% of Americans who do have wills in place, an untold number complete their wills making common mistakes, leading to problems. You can avoid making these common mistakes by using an experienced estate planning attorney.
What Are the Common Mistakes Made in Wills Done Without An Attorney?
A will must be free of all errors. If you make a mistake in your will or if you are unclear regarding your specific wishes, there’s nothing that can be done once you pass away.
People who are unfamiliar with wills and the statutory provision applying to them, make mistakes without even realizing it. Instead of alleviating problems by creating their own will, they create more problems, some of which could be insurmountable.
Some Common Errors Found In Do It Yourself Wills Include:
- Forgetting to sign the will or failing to follow the formalities required by statutes
- You don’t tell anyone where the will is secured away.
- You neglect to take the time to update your will.
- Adding or updating amendments improperly and thereby, nullifying them. Your passing will likely cause a lot of grief and heartache among your friends and family. I doubt you would want to add confusion over the terms of your will to their loss.
- Vague wording used in a will may cause confusion. A lot of homemade wills suffer from non-specific language. Far too often, the language is vague and subject to misinterpretation. An attorney will use unequivocal language that is easily understood by executors of the will.
Other Common Errors In Do It Yourself Wills Include:
- Making a handwritten, otherwise known as a holographic will. Although they can be legal, if the writing is illegible it can be difficult if not impossible to determine the testator’s meaning/intent.
- Forgetting to name an executor of the will and/or an alternate executor.
- Forgetting to include all intended beneficiaries.
- Not including the percentage of the estate intended for each beneficiary.
- Forgetting to review your will from time to time for any necessary changes.
- Not providing for your pets.
- Forgetting to include your business interests.
- Not devising specific bequests to specific individuals.
- Not including other important estate planning documents.
The entire purpose behind creating a will is to make things easier for your loved ones when you pass away. Preparing a will on your own could have the opposite effect if it’s not prepared correctly. The better choice is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney who can ask the right questions and prepare the right documents. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family.
At the Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, we have more than 40 years of experience in preparing wills and other estate planning documents, including durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate documents, and trusts. Visit us at www.handinlaw.com or contact us at 954-796-9600 to schedule an appointment to discuss your estate planning needs.