Establishing a will in Colorado seems like it should be a simple, intuitive process. However, subtle mistakes that you make in this document can expose your estate to tax consequences and sew confusion among your beneficiaries. Save your loved ones a lot of trouble by avoiding these six tragically common errors.
Mistake #1: Believing that your choice of beneficiaries – and your relationships with these people — will remain constant over decades.
Right now, for instance, you may want to divide up all your assets evenly among your children and your spouse. However, what happens if you get divorced? What if one of your children falls ill and requires special financial protections? What if your children have children of their own, and you want to support your grandchildren as well? What if you discover an amazing charity and want to endow it with a generous financial gift?
Life is fluid, and your estate plans should reflect that fluidity. Amend your will on a regular basis to ensure that your wishes are up to date.
Mistake #2: You write your will in legalese that’s difficult for people to understand.
A needlessly complex will can cause misunderstandings, delays, hurt feelings and tax issues. Wills do not have to be written in flowery legal terminology in order for the court to consider them valid. If all parties cannot clearly understand your intentions, the will could be contested.
Mistake #3: You fail to date and sign the will or get it properly notarized.
Clerical errors, as well as the inclusion of ambiguous abbreviations or nicknames, can lead to confusion and needless legal agita. While you should avoid drowning the will in legalese, you should nevertheless use formal language and complete all needed fields.
Mistake #4: Failing to describe your wishes and preferences in specific-enough detail.
Ambiguity is the enemy of ease, when it comes to estate planning. Provide full and complete descriptions of assets as well as any special requests. One way to avoid ambiguity is to brainstorm what could go wrong with the process and then to add language to the will for the purpose of preventing those negative scenarios from happening.
Mistake #5: Failing to update your will in the event that named executor becomes indisposed or unable to act.
You should build contingencies into your estate plans. What if, for example, the executor dies along with you in a car accident? Your estate plans could be thrown out of order. Speak with your attorney about what contingency plans you should include. For instance, you might want to nominate another person to be the will’s executor, if your first choice dies or cannot serve for whatever reason.
Our legal team can provide the insight and guidance to ensure that your will effectively enshrines your wishes and protects the people and causes you love. Call us today to get peace of mind and clarity about what you need to do next.