Mistakes on your last will and testament can cause lasting damage.
You know you are supposed to have a last will and testament in place.
You have heard about dying intestate and would like to avoid this for yourself.
Having the state determine who inherits your assets or takes care of your minor children when you die is unappealing.
You would rather make these choices yourself, right?
According to a recent Aiken (SC) Standard article titled “Avoiding mistakes with your will,” simply throwing together a last will and testament is insufficient.
Your last will must be legal to work when needed.
How do you ensure your last will is legally recognized?
For starters, your last will and testament must be in writing, with very limited exceptions.
You, as the testator, must be an adult of sound mind.
The signing of the document must be witnessed by two individuals who are not related to the testator.
The will should also be notarized as part of what is known as a self-proving affidavit.
Basically, that means the witnesses will not need to testify as part of the probate process.
Because it is easy to make mistakes on your last will, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Creating a last will does not mean you are done with estate planning forever.
You will need to review it periodically and updated it according to changes in family dynamics or changes in applicable federal and state laws.
As you create your last will, be sure you include your collections, memorabilia, and family heirlooms in the manner provided under the laws of your state.
Because you will not be able to manage your estate after you die, you will need to nominate an executor.
To avoid making a mistake on this selection, choose an individual who is younger than you, well-organized, and willing.
You also need to nominate an alternate executor in case your first choice cannot serve.
Do you have minor children?
Be sure to nominate guardians to rear them to adulthood should they be orphaned.
You may also want to name a separate custodian to manage finances on behalf of the children.
Once you have taken care of these important matters, you are still in danger of making a big mistake on your last will and testament.
Tell your loved ones and your executor where to find it.
Reference: Aiken (SC) Standard )(March 22, 2020) “Avoiding mistakes with your will”