It is essential to create a clear-cut Estate Plan to ensure your wishes are carried out once you are gone but a surprising number of people still make a mess of it. While it appears as if creating a Will is a complex process, it is a necessary evil to make sure your wealth is distributed among your loved ones the way you see fit. According to experts in the field, there are seven big mistakes, also known as deadly sins, associated with creating a Will and we look at them below.
1 – Greed
It may be tempting to cut corners and purchase a DIY Will-writing kit but in reality, you are taking a major risk. While these kits may be written in the form of a Will, they are likely to be missing a number of crucial details. It is definitely a risk if you don’t already know how to sort out asset ownership or structure your financial affairs correctly.
Ultimately, a Will is just an end product; you should seek legal advice before finalising it. All it takes is one error to render a Will null and void. You can have the very best of intentions but a mistake on the document or a failure to draft it means your intended beneficiaries may be left out in the cold.
2 – Wrath
Issues such as blended families and divorces can make the entire estate planning process an extremely complicated one. Major life changes such as remarriage or separation are grounds to review your Will. An increasing number of Wills are being challenged in court by family members or ex-partners and many of these challenges are upheld. Although you can’t prevent people from challenging your Will after you’re gone, you can seek legal expertise to ensure the document is watertight thus rendering any challenge a futile gesture.
3 – Pride
You should never be too proud to utilise the Power of Attorney because it is a valuable tool. If you end up will a medical condition such as dementia, your mental capacity will be diminished to the point where you will no longer be able to take charge of your own affairs. By 2020, an estimated 400,000 people in the UK will have dementia; a number set to more than double by 2050. As a result, you must give a trusted individual the Power of Attorney to make decisions on your behalf in the event you are no longer able to do so.
4 – Sloth
You can’t afford to be lazy when it comes to creating an Estate Plan. Common excuses including being too young and not having enough assets to justify it. Regardless of your age, if you own your home, have children or are a member of a superannuation fund, it is important to draft up a Will. If you do nothing there could be a heavy price to pay.
5 – Envy
Wills are always best kept secret until after you’re gone. Reading out a Will can lead to all sorts of problems with close families suddenly becoming enemies because they dispute the Will’s contents. Perhaps you can clearly explain why one person received more money than another but generally speaking, it is best left hidden away until the time comes to implement it.
6 – Gluttony
An increasing number of people are leaving money to charities in their Wills so don’t forget to add in details of your generosity if you wish to become a philanthropist. Many people like to set up a foundation to carry out their good work once they are gone so if this sounds like something you would be interested in, get in touch with an attorney to find out how to make it happen.
7 – Lust
An increasing phenomenon is the number of children from extra-marital affairs who are successfully making a claim on a Will. One high profile case involved the daughter of Michael Wright who ended up receiving $24 million after initially asking for half that amount! Even neighbours who have helped you out in the past can make claims unless you are very clear in your wishes.