Hopefully, our blog post, You have a will, right? inspired you–or freaked you out–enough to get a will, or maybe you already have one. It might be time to dust it off and review it. On February 16, the Wall Street Journal published a piece in its Wealth Management Journal report titled, “The Biggest Mistakes People Make With Their Wills.” As they say, it’s behind a paywall, but here is a link to the original article, anyway. Here’s a quick synopsis of the mistakes identified in that piece.
The first one, procrastinating, might not apply to you if you already have a will. If you don’t, stop procrastinating, and until you stop procrastinating, look both ways before crossing the street–and read our blog post above for the implications of not having a will.
Be careful about giving everything, outright to heirs. Instead, if you have enough assets, such that the sudden receipt of them could cause your heirs to make bad decisions, consider setting up a trust that gives out the funds at certain ages, as well as providing other estate planning benefits.
This will probably apply more and more, but don’t forget about digital assets, such as cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NTFs.) The article suggests using a device known as a hardware wallet (think how-powered flash drive.) Here is a link to an article that discusses them.
Not regularly updating your will is the fourth mistake cited. It suggests an review/update every 5-10 years. Some of things it mentions that could change in that are guardians, charitable intentions, and people named who have since passed away.
While not really a will mistake, the fifth item has to do with not updating beneficiaries elsewhere, such as in retirement plans and transfer-on-death accounts, which supercede–maybe better, precede–one’s will.
Not allowing for flexibility. A good attorney should be able to take care of this when drafting the will, but allocating dollar amounts might not provide the flexibility of allocating by percentage. Drum roll… (not really)
In fact, this may have merited a drum roll. The article suggests that you be upfront with your heirs about your intentions, especially if you specify unequal bequests to heirs…for good reason. If you don’t, you could leave a child wondering for the rest of his or her life if his or her parents really loved them.
I’m guessing the disclosure we’ll be required to add below is that this doesn’t constitute legal advice, and it really doesn’t, but maybe it’ll inspire you to go and seek legal advice if any of the mistakes mentioned above apply to you.
Storen Financial and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.