In California, creating a will can detail your wishes and provide instructions on how you would like your assets distributed after you pass away. The information in this document can secure your loved ones’ future, but it can also cause legal disputes, confusion, and unintended consequences if done improperly. You can avoid some common mistakes by becoming aware of them.
Not making or updating a will
If you do not make a will, your loved ones may have difficulty deciding how to handle your assets fairly. Alternatively, you may have drawn up and executed a will years ago. Since then, you have been through a divorce and remarriage, bought and sold various assets, and had two additional children. If you do not periodically revisit your will and include these changes, you may create a situation almost as problematic as if you did not have a will.
Another common mistake people make in estate planning is drawing up a will but never properly executing it. Even if everything else goes well in creating and executing a will, some people neglect to tell anyone that their will exists or its location exists.
Choosing the wrong executor
When you choose someone as an executor, the individual becomes responsible for carrying out your wishes after your death. If you choose someone too old, ill, or untrustworthy, they might not be able to handle the estate management and distribute the assets as you had intended.
Acting as the executor of someone’s estate can involve much work, especially for larger or more complex estates. Take care not to choose someone who would feel overwhelmed by the workload or who would not be capable of carrying out the tasks properly.
Incomplete or vague information
The more details included in a will, the better. Some individuals fail to address all their assets in their will, meaning they have left valuable belongings or property out of the estate with no heir. Another common mistake involves using vague or ambiguous language, which leaves statements open to interpretation. The ambiguity could cause arguments and possibly litigation, especially if a will names several beneficiaries.
Knowing how to write and update a will properly ensures that your executor can distribute your assets according to your wishes.