Your last will and testament is your final instruction directing how your estate is to be divided up once you pass on. It can be your final act of kindness to your loved ones. To help this to be your final act of kindness, it is important that you avoid making certain common mistakes when drafting your will. Making any of these mistakes when drafting your will could complicate and delay the process after you pass on; it could cause unnecessary strain on your loved ones.
What follows are 5 common mistakes to avoid when drafting your will.
1. Mistakes to avoid when drafting your will: Not following the legal formalities
People who draft their own wills, with no help from a qualified professional, are often not aware of the legal formalities that need to be followed for a will to be valid. Failing to follow the legally required formalities means that the will is invalid. It is, however, possible to apply to court to condone the will, but this is a costly and lengthy process. And remember that this will happen after you have passed on, so it will be your loved ones who have to engage in the costly and lengthy process. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to use a qualified professional to help you draft your will.
2. Mistakes to avoid when drafting your will: Selecting a beneficiary as a witness
The witnesses of a will (as well as their spouses) are by law automatically disqualified from inheriting from the will. A beneficiary does have recourse to the court, but at a price. The obvious way to avoid making this mistake is by not letting your beneficiaries be witnesses.
3. Mistakes to avoid when drafting your will: Forgetting to include a “leftovers” clause
A leftovers or residuary clause covers property that you don’t specifically mention anywhere else in your will. It allows you to ensure that your entire estate is covered by your will. If you forget to include this clause, you will die partially intestate. The property that is not specifically mentioned in the will then has to be distributed according to the law and not by your wishes. The fix is to include a leftovers clause.
4. Mistakes to avoid when drafting your will: Not revoking earlier wills
A later will does not necessarily revoke an earlier will. If in a later will you do not explicitly revoke your earlier will, both wills could be read together upon the event of your death. The wills have to be reconciled. Where there is conflict between the old and the new will, the provisions of the new will override those of the old. It is obvious how this becomes a very complicated and lengthy process, with results potentially not conforming to your wishes. Be sure to explicitly revoke all previous wills in your latest will.
5. Mistakes to avoid when drafting your will: Not storing your will in an easily locatable place
If your loved ones cannot find your will, they cannot carry out your final wishes. If no one can find your will, you will die intestate. None of your wishes can be carried out. Give a copy of your will to your executor and another copy to someone you trust.
These are some of the mistakes to avoid when drafting your will. Be sure to avoid these mistakes! If you require any assistance in or advice on the topic of drafting your will, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].