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7 Common Mistakes People Make When Writing a Last Will

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July 27, 2021

7 Common Mistakes People Make When Writing a Last Will

Sitting down to write your last will and testament is one of the least pleasant tasks one can set out to do. No one likes to think about their death. This is probably why people put writing a last will off to the (quite literally) last minute. It's a big mistake, as a missing or an unfinished will can cause a whole lot of legal and financial problems for your potential heirs.

Probate can be a long and complicated affair, so it's best to get your will written correctly to save your loved one's potential issues. Though there are ways to get advances on the probate funds if you want to find out more, click here.

There are many other mistakes that you should avoid making when preparing your last will and testament. Using the right language and formatting may seem trivial, but it's another thing that can save your relatives a lot of time in probate court. Read on to find out more about avoiding the most common mistakes when writing the last will.

Not Using the Right Language

Many people use last will and testament interchangeably with the term "will". However, these are two entirely different things - a will is what you leave behind, while a last will is how you dispose of it. "Last" implies that you only have one will, while "will" is just a generic term for your testament. The key thing here is to make sure that you call your last will properly - otherwise, it won't be valid.

Not Disposing of the Will Properly

Your last will is supposed to be distributed to your potential heirs after your death. However, if you do not specify how and when this should happen, it can become a real headache for the executor of your estate. First, they will have to figure out the best way to get the will to the right people. Secondly, they may have to deal with the will being contested by people who try to claim their share of the inheritance. To avoid all of this hassle, it's best to specify who should be given the will after your death and what their responsibilities are.

Failing to Keep Copies of Your Last Will

If you die without a valid last will and testament, your estate will be divided according to state law. This means that your family members may not receive what you intended for them, and they may be left without any form of inheritance. To avoid this issue, you should keep at least two copies of your last will: one with your lawyer and one with a trusted relative or friend. You should also keep copies in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box or a secure storage facility.

Neglecting to Update Your Last Will Over Time

After writing a last will, you should review it regularly and update it whenever necessary. As you get older, your family situation may change significantly - new people enter your life, some people pass away, etc. If anything changes in your life that could affect the distribution of your assets upon death, you should amend your last will accordingly.

It's also worth noting that each state has its own laws regarding inheritance laws. Your state may have made amendments that would require you to update your last will to be valid.

Putting Too Many Restrictions on Your Assets

As most wills are private documents that should not be shared with anyone outside of the immediate family, there's no reason why you should put too many restrictions on your assets or on how they should be used after your death.

Ignoring the Tax Implications of Inheriting Money

When writing a last will and testament, it's tempting to ignore the tax implications of inheriting money - after all, that's not what the document is about. However, avoiding talking about taxes will create problems for those who inherit money from you. If they don't know about the tax implications before they inherit money from you, they may end up paying extra taxes on it or even getting into legal trouble for not paying taxes correctly on an inheritance. To avoid this problem, explain in the last will how much money each potential heir is going to inherit and how they should pay taxes on that money (for example, lump sum or annual payments).

Not Consulting a Lawyer Before Writing Your Last Will

Writing a last will and testament can be confusing, as the laws surrounding wills can vary significantly depending on where you live. This is why one should always consult a lawyer before writing their last will - it helps eliminate a lot of confusion later when it comes time to apply the document and deal with potential disputes.

Final Note

Although writing a last will and testament can be a daunting task, it's crucial that you get it right. Not only will it help you leave your assets to the right people, but it will also make the probate process much simpler for your potential heirs. The key thing to remember here is to avoid these common mistakes - they could cost your family dearly.

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About the author

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Andy Redan

Andy Redan is a content writer whose primary focus is to create high-quality articles on new technologies. His other main fields of interest are business and home renovations.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

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