The Ten Most Common Mistakes in Making a Will

1. Failing to Make a Will – If you have no will, your estate will probably pass to persons you would not intend, or pass to your next of kin in different proportions than you would wish

2. Not Keeping Your Will up to Date – Circumstances change over the years with the birth of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. You may intend to remarry. Your own children may have become involved in complex relationships or financial problems that could affect the provisions you wish to make. It is wise to review the contents of your will at the very least each five years to ensure that it still represents your intentions. Putting off updating your will is very unwise because if you become incapacitated unexpectedly you could then be unable to make changes to it.

3. Failing to Understand the Impact of Marriage and Divorce – Unless specifically worded, a will signed prior to marriage will be invalid. Divorce also affects some provisions in your will.

4. Doing it Yourself – While you may believe the wording of your will is a simple matter, this is not so, and many are the court cases that have been necessary in order to interpret a home-drawn will. The cost of a will is a very modest outlay compared to the expense of a court case over your estate and the emotional stress caused to your beneficiaries.

5. Not Having it Signed and Witnessed Correctly – There are various technicalities covering the circumstances of execution of wills both in relation to the actual signing and witnessing and the categories of people who may be witnesses and your solicitor can ensure that your will is properly signed and witnessed.

6. Appointing the Wrong Executors – One of the things your solicitor will discuss with you when taking instructions for drawing up your will is who are the most appropriate persons to be your executors. Some examples of inappropriate executors might be someone who lives overseas, someone who will claim executorial commission from your estate when there is an alternative family member who will not, or someone whose age may make them reluctant to take on the responsibility.

7. Appointing the Wrong Trustee – If your will creates trusts for infant beneficiaries or a beneficiary with a disability, careful consideration should be give to the choice of trustee appointed to manage and invest an inheritance. You must have confidence that your choice will not be out of his or her depth or may neglect to fulfil his or her obligations or charge excessively for the work.

8. Poor Tax Planning – With even a modest estate, there can be a minefield of taxation and superannuation issues to consider and proper estate planning advice is essential, if necessary in conjunction with your accountant or financial advisor.

9. Second Marriage Issues – This is an area in which problems commonly arise and careful consideration needs to be given to the possible claims of various family members, for example, the second spouse and any children of a first marriage.,

10. Squabbling Over Sentimental Items - Often it is those personal items with little or no commercial value such as photos, sentimental heirloom jewellery pieces, war medals etc, that can cause divisions among siblings at a time of grief. Specifically bequeathing individual items in your will, or providing for beneficiaries to make alternate choices for example, can avoid this and your solicitor can discuss with you the best way to word such provisions

Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is of a general nature only. You should always consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific circumstances and facts

F C Bryant Thomas & Co
3/21 King Street Rockdale NSW 2216