Avoid these three common mistakes when making a will

This article looks at three of the most common mistakes people make when drafting a will.

Making a will is probably the most important and most basic step anybody can take when planning for how their loved ones will be provided for after they pass on. However, as the Financial Post reports, more than half of all Canadians do not have a will and about a third of Baby Boomers likewise lack a will. Not having a will is a recipe for trouble and conflict later on. However, for those who have made the right decision and taken the first steps towards drafting a will, it is important to ensure that will avoids some of the following common mistakes that can end up causing headaches and problems for one's heirs in the future.

TO discuss or not discuss the will with family

Talking about death is understandably difficult, but when it comes to estate planning and inheritances. Some will makers feel it is important that one's family be kept informed about what to expect and other will makers would rather not discuss the contents of their will with their beneficiaries. CBC News has pointed out that far too many will disputes arise because parents are not clear with their children about who is getting what however, in many cases it may not be prudent to discuss the contents of the will with your beneficiaries. Such a discussion will depend on the contents of the will and the knowledge of the will maker about how such disclosure may affect the relationship between the beneficiaries. Some heirs may simply assume that they will receive a certain share of the estate or a particular asset but there may be circumstances where that is not possible. Some will makers will decide to discuss these matters personally with the beneficiaries and some may decide it is better to provide the explanation in the will itself

Choosing the wrong executor

Being an executor is a demanding job. An executor needs to be both trustworthy and have the time to dedicate to the task at hand. In most cases the executor will be a family member and it's not unusual for the executor to also be one of the heirs to an estate. When a family member is also an executor it can lead to will disputes, with other family members becoming suspicious of the executor's performance or intentions. Furthermore, some executors may be poorly equipped to handle the demands placed on them. One's executor should be carefully chosen and whoever that executor is should be informed of his or her role before it is put into writing.

Not understanding what assets a will covers

A lot of people assume that a will deals with their entire estate and, as such, that it will also deal with how all of one's assets are to be distributed. The truth, however, is that many important assets - including RRSPs, TFSAs, insurance policies, and pensions - have direct beneficiaries. In most cases direct beneficiaries take precedence over directives laid out in a will.

A will can provide peace of mind not just for the will-maker, but for his or her family as well. However, because a will is such an important estate planning document it is important to make sure that it is drafted properly and in full accordance with current law. An estate planning law firm can help individuals who have concerns with a wide variety of estate planning issues, including with how to draft a will that will better ensure their final wishes are respected.