A will is a written legal document that indicates how a deceased person wants their property to be distributed upon their death. In legal terms, the person that makes the will is known as a testator. Testators have two options for preparing a will: to prepare the will themselves or to enlist the help of an estate lawyer. Self-prepared wills are generally not the best option because they are usually plagued with costly mistakes and errors. If you intend to write a will yourself, here are some serious potential pitfalls you should avoid.
- Not covering all assets. It is not uncommon for DIY testators to forget including some assets in their will simply because of the forgetfulness of the human mind. This can cause relatives who think they are entitled to the property to contest for it in court. When you are writing a will, you should be sure to include everything you own. This way, ownership of every asset or piece of property will be transferred to the exact person you wanted.
- Failing to include all beneficiaries. Before writing your will, make sure you list down everyone you want to benefit from your estate. Mark you, anyone not included in your will won't be entitled to any part of it, so make sure everyone you care about is explicitly mentioned in the will.
- Not having witnesses. No matter how much you may want to keep your will a secret, you cannot keep it a secret to everyone. You will need a minimum number of witnesses required by law to sign the will. The witnesses are required to attest that you signed the document without being subjected to undue influence; that is, on your own free will. Lack of witnesses is sufficient grounds to render your will invalid.
- Not appointing the executor of the will. Who will execute your will once you're no more? Surely there must be someone to fulfill your wishes as regards to the distribution of the wealth you'll have left behind. This person is called an executor, and you will need to appoint them while you are still alive. Failure to choose an executor will render your will invalid.
The surest way to ensure the will you leave behind once you're gone holds water is to let an experienced wills and probate lawyer to prepare your will. It will cost money, but you can be sure that your property will go to whomever you wanted, and your family will remain peaceful.