A will is among the most important legal documents anyone can have. If someone passes away without a will, there will be no executor in place, which means one will need to be appointed, causing delays and frustration. There’s also a greater risk of conflict among beneficiaries leading to potential lawsuits. It’s therefore easy to understand why the single biggest omission in estate planning is not to have a will at all.
That being said, however, there are some very common items that people frequently forget to include in their wills. Let’s review a few them now.
If you have a beloved pet, you want to make sure that it will be well taken care of. Although you can’t leave any assets or property to a pet in your will, you should ensure that provisions are made for its care.
Your will should name an individual as the primary caregiver for your pet. It’s also a good idea to include a possible secondary caregiver should the primary caregiver be unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility.
Since, by their very nature, digital assets are not tangible goods, they are often excluded from wills. They are, nevertheless, a very important consideration. There can be some significant monetary value to websites, online accounts, and domain names. Be sure not to forget to include all relevant account numbers and passwords within the will.
Although there’s probably no economic value associated with personal social media accounts, it’s a good idea to include these in the will as well. That way, accounts can be managed accordingly to prevent messages posted on the wall of the deceased wall or appearing in their newsfeed.
It may be grandma’s charm bracelet, a piece of furniture that’s been a mainstay in your living room, or the watch you received when you retired. No matter if they’re worth thousands of dollars or if they have very little monetary value, family heirlooms often have the greatest amount of emotional value to survivors.
If no personal property memorandum is included in the will detailing who should get which item, there’s a greater risk of a dispute between beneficiaries that can be damaging to their relationships. To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to discuss with your loved ones which items among your personal belongings have the most meaning for them and to resolve any potential disputes before they can happen.
If you’re like most people, you probably have one primary beneficiary in mind that is to be named in your will. If that’s the case, don’t make the mistake of omitting alternate beneficiaries. This is important should the beneficiary predecease the testator, or is incapable of inheriting and managing an asset properly due to age or mental capacity.
It’s very common that, after a will has been drafted, years and even decades can pass before it is read. In the intervening time, circumstances may have changed regarding the intended beneficiary. If the will is unclear and the beneficiary is a minor or found to be incompetent, arriving at an alternate solution can be complex and expensive. For that reason, it’s a good idea to review your will every few years to see if an amendment is needed.
When your estate planning includes a thorough and professionally prepared will with as few omissions as possible, you’ll be assured that your wishes will be carried out with little or no room for disputes or arguments.