Executing the wishes of a testator starts with reading a will and applying the bidding as listed. However, sometimes, it may be challenging to honor the wishes of a loved one if the terms are ambiguous. Any elements of uncertainty in a will are cause for agitation and confusion among beneficiaries. If you plan to write your will and ensure that your beneficiaries enjoy your inheritance, it’s wise to hire a qualified attorney to guide you through the process. It’s also wise to understand common sources of confusion and how you can avoid them when drafting your will.
1. Vague Recipients
Selecting beneficiaries is an essential component of any will. For clarity when listing the beneficiaries, it’s best to use specific names and titles to prevent future confusion. Words such as “nieces,” “nephews,” or “spouse” without specific names beside them are open to interpretation. While this problem may seem dismissable at first, it’s essential to consider the weight of unspecified titles. What happens if you get divorced after listing your spouse as the beneficiary? What happens if you have more than one person claims to be your niece?
After your passing, the beneficiaries go through the probate process, which takes time and also consumes money. If your will is unspecific, your loved ones waste even more time and money fighting over property. Specificity saves time and money when it’s time to redistribute your wealth. With specific names, your beneficiaries need only fill out a few forms and get their inheritance without lengthy court processes.
When naming your beneficiaries, think critically of how they can distribute the inheritance among themselves and how they’re likely to use it in the future. At Tanko Law, we guide you through the execution process to help you list your beneficiaries correctly and apply the right legal terms.
2. Undefined Items
If you own multiple assets and heirlooms, using unique identifiers and names is essential to avoid confusion. Imagine that you have several houses in Montana, which can be listed as your home. If you state that your “home” should be left to your spouse, there may be arguments as to which property defines your home. In this example, it’s essential to state the address and the contents of the home. Listing the contents is essential to prevent future arguments whether the contents on the home should be distributed among several beneficiaries. If you wish to leave an heirloom or a specific piece of jewelry, describe it, and list the specific beneficiary.
Sometimes, people list all personal property under one general name and state the recipient. This may work if you have few personal possessions, and there’s no cause for future conflict. It’s also common because most people don’t want to create a long list of items with their specific recipients. However, you can look into drafting a personal property memorandum with your attorney. In that way, while the majority of your personal property may go to family, friends, or charity, you’ll have tangible personal property preserved for precise recipients. Reach out to Tanko Law for further guidance on naming items in your will.
3. More Than One Will Version
Every will should be executed according to the law, but more problems arise when there is more than one version of your will. While it’s not unusual to update your will in time due to changes in assets, relationships, and laws, having several versions is confusing for your recipients.
One of the biggest challenges of having multiple wills is that your wishes may be ignored. Older wills drafted at a different part of your life may give your property to the wrong beneficiaries, or loop your recipients in unending court battles. The courts examine the documents to determine which will takes precedence. In most cases, the newest copy wins, but only if executed correctly. If one of the contestants to your will can prove undue influence, lack of capacity, or fraud, the courts may rule in favor of previous copies.
It’s essential to take measures that override all prior copies of your will and only recognize your last copy. A great measure to prevent several versions is to use one office to execute your will. The attorney ensures that all your wishes, including those you draft in writing, are included in the latest will.
4. Lack Of Valid Execution
A will requires several elements to be valid and executable. For example, the lack of a signature on a will is cause for questions. A testator needs to sign the will at the end to prevent any arguments about their intentions. Without a signature, anyone can argue that the testator did not draft the will.
The lack of witnesses and their official signatures also affects the validity of a will. When signing, a testator should have two witnesses to confirm that the will was indeed signed accordingly. The witnesses should also be available for recall once the will comes into effect for the proper distribution of a testator’s assets. It’s also crucial that the witnesses sign the will in the presence of the testator to prevent any claims that invalidate the will.
Other circumstances may also affect the validity of a will. For example, marriage can render a will void if it was drafted when the testator was single. However, a testator can include a clause to address the marriage and preserve the will as it was. It’s wise to consult an attorney to determine what happens in instances where there’s a new spouse or children that may have protections under the law.
5. Unfulfilled Expectations
Your beneficiaries have certain expectations of your will. Sometimes, recipients may contest a will if you award them less than they expected. Some claims may be valid or invalid, but consume time and cause further confusion. In some instances, it may be beneficial to manage expectations to prevent nasty surprises.
How To Draft Your Will In Montana
To write a suitable will and prevent any confusion and mistakes, consult a professional and qualified attorney. At Tanko Law, we understand your need for a well-crafted estate plan and will that ensure all your recipients honor your last wishes. Contact us today for more information on managing your estate in Montana.