Your will is an important document that needs to be done right if you want your wishes respected. Here are six common mistakes and how to avoid them.
In our last blog, When Should You Get an Estate Plan?, we talked about the different life events that should necessitate creating an estate plan or refreshing the plan you already have.
Maybe you read through and realized it was time to finally create that will you’ve been putting off.
Before you get started, here are 6 common mistakes to avoid when creating or updating your will.
Mistake #1: Only appointing one executor
An executor should have the skills to complete the tasks involved with settling your estate. However, even if you select the perfect executor, your estate could run into problems if that person is unavailable, whether temporarily or permanently.
Appointing multiple executors ensures that even if one is ever unavailable, there’s someone else who can legally manage your estate. While there’s technically no limit to the number of executors you can appoint, keep in mind that naming too many could become problematic. (Think too many cooks in the kitchen.)
You can name co-executors who work together or an alternate executor who only steps in should something happen to the first-named executor.
Mistake #2: Not including a digital assets clause
Digital assets like email addresses, photos on the cloud, and cryptocurrency are an increasingly common aspect of estate planning. Since there is no automatic right of survivorship for digital assets, it’s important that you account for both your sentimental and monetary digital assets when drawing up your will.
Adding more complexity is the fact that digital accounts and assets are contracts between an individual and a service provider, making it nearly impossible to bequest them to another person without a written statement.
One of the best ways to ensure the right people have legal access to your digital assets is to include a digital asset clause in your will. This clause gives a digital executor power to access, manage, administer, and sell your digital assets. It ensures that your assets are safeguarded and passed on according to your wishes.
Mistake #3: Adding too much information about digital assets
While it’s important to record your digital assets and how to access them, your will should never include passwords or cryptocurrency keys. Wills often have to go through the probate process which means that your will could become a public record. Having information that allows people to sign into your accounts or access your cryptocurrency puts them at risk of being compromised or stolen.
For example, if you include the public and private keys for your cryptocurrency in your will and it goes through probate, anyone can look up court records and find your keys. With that information nothing is stopping them from taking your cryptocurrency.
Mistake #4: Being vague
It’s important to be as specific as possible when creating your will. Without clear instructions your will could be contested in court, causing stress for your loved ones and costing your estate unnecessary legal fees. For example, if your will states that “Steve Rogers” is to inherit your entire estate but there’s two Steve Rogers in your family, it’s important to specify which person you’re referring to.
Mistake #5: Creating an invalid will
Depending on where you’re located there will be different requirements for creating a valid will. Holographic wills, which are handwritten and signed, are not recognized in BC and PEI. It’s also important to note that holographic wills must be handwritten and any part of the will that’s created with the help of mechanical processes (like a computer or typewriter) is not considered part of the holographic will.
One of the reasons people create holographic wills is due to concerns about high legal fees. If costs are a concern, there are more affordable options like Willful that will ensure your will is valid.
Mistake #6: Not updating your will
Even the most well-planned and thorough estate plan will eventually be outdated. Updating your will is one of the most important aspects of estate planning. Life is constantly changing and your will should reflect those changes.
Here are just a few life changes that may necessitate a change to your life and legacy plan:
A change in your relationship status (marriage, common-law, divorce)
The death of an executor
A change in your relationship with an executor
Moving to another province, territory, or country
Adoption or birth of a child
If none of these events have occurred but a few years have passed since you reviewed your will, it’s probably time to have a look. You might be surprised how much has changed since you last updated it.
Once you’ve updated your will, don’t forget to upload the latest version to your EstateBox.
And if you haven’t created your EstateBox account yet, don’t worry! Create your account today and enjoy a 60-day free trial (no credit card or code required) to help you get started on your life and legacy plan.
While we’re passionate about all things estate planning, we’re not professionals. We recommend speaking with your lawyer or financial advisor when putting together an estate plan.