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Top 5 Mistakes When Making a Will

top 5

Mistake 1: Your Will is Incomplete

Left out a few details? Princess Diana did. Here’s what happened next.

What to Expect

Before she died, Princess Diana wrote a letter of wishes for her 17 godchildren. Unfortunately, it got left out of her will. Her executors read it and were outraged. They secretly changed her plans after her death, leaving each godchild a single memento, instead of the nearly $160,000 Princess Diana intended.

Not having witnesses, leaving out instructions or being vague about your wishes can complicate executing your will.

Not Making That Mistake

Before you decide your will is complete, check that:

  • you included all the right assets, including your Labradoodle Suzy
  • it’s witnessed properly (usually not by your spouse)
  • you understand the rules for handwritten or “holographic” wills
  • your handwritten will is final, not in draft
  • you indicated what to do with gifts if an heir dies before you
  • trusts are set up properly.

Even if your estate is small and everyone agrees on who gets what, you are wise to hire a lawyer. If you don’t understand something in your will, ask before you sign.

Axess Law’s lawyers can check your will to ensure it is complete. They offer advice and answer all your questions. Drop by our conveniently located offices any day of the week, at a time that works for you. Our video conference service lets you update your will in minutes, from the comfort of your home.

Contact us today about finalizing your will.

Mistake 2: You Chose the Wrong Executor

Your executor is no longer talking to you. What to do?

What to Expect

Uncle Bob and you used to get along. You even trusted him to manage your estate. Now he no longer answers your calls. Are your assets safe? Can your family even find your will?

You need to replace your executor. Before your heirs get caught up in the confusion.

After all, once you are gone, your executor speaks for you.

Not Making That Mistake

It’s time for a change. Canvas friends, family and associates for just the right executor.

  • Are they healthy and likely to outlive you?
  • Do they have the time?
  • Can they handle the responsibilities?
  • Are they handy with numbers?
  • Do they communicate well?

Your executor will settle your estate, pay your debts and give out assets according to your wishes. Choose wisely. You could even appoint two executors or ask a lawyer or accountant (although that will cost you more).

Once you have your new executor(s), Axess Law’s lawyers can update your will. Drop by our conveniently located offices any day of the week, at a time that works for you. Our video conference service lets you update your will in minutes, from the comfort of your home.

Call us today if you need to change your executor.

Incidentally, keep your burial wishes separate from your will. Your friends and family will want to know what to do, before your will is read.

Mistake 3: Your Will is Out of Date

You made a will, but forgot to update it. Is your will even valid?

What to Expect

At least you have a will.

Prince didn’t and over 45 “heirs” claimed to be his wife, children or relatives. Soul singer James Brown left his wife and youngest child in a cold sweat. Oscar-winning Hunger Games actor Philip Seymour Hoffman forgot to add his new daughters.

Do you really want your heirs to have a costly legal or emotional struggle? Consider the consequences. Your assets may not be given out as planned. Your family will wait longer to inherit and they may pay more in income taxes or estate fees.

Not Making That Mistake

Check your will today.

  • Does it include your current spouse and children?
  • What will you give your new daughter-in-law?
  • Changed your mind about a relative who has fallen out of favour?
  • Who will care for your children if you die?
  • On second thought, prefer to give the grandchildren a cash gift?
  • Who inherits your business?
  • Have you added new real estate and personal property?
  • Has the law changed since you wrote your will?
  • Is your personal information correct?

Axess Law’s lawyers help you update your will. Drop by our conveniently located offices any day of the week, at a time that works for you. And our video conference service lets you update your will in minutes, from the comfort of your home.

Ask us today. You’ll rest easier knowing your will is in order.

Mistake 4: You Did it Yourself

You wrote your own will. But will it stand up in court?

What to Expect

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger wrote his 176-word will. Instead of a windfall, his heirs paid hundreds of thousands in estate taxes. And he was a lawyer!

Writing your own will can be tricky. That DIY book you bought in Montreal may not apply in Ontario. The last thing you want is for your will to fail in court because you overlooked essential steps.

Not Making That Mistake

By now, you may have realized you could use some help. Here are some tips:

  • Discuss your plans. Your well-meaning gift could affect your heirs’ guaranteed income supplement or capital gains.
  • Include all your assets. A residuary clause takes care of any assets left over after your estate is distributed.
  • Review beneficiaries for assets like bank accounts or life insurance. When you list a beneficiary, they automatically inherit.
  • If you leave someone out, explain why. That could prevent them a court challenge.
  • Record bank account, social media or email passwords. Your accounts may need winding down. Besides, your heirs may want to keep your social media accounts alive.

Axess Law’s lawyers understand you want to keep costs down. Our wills cost hundreds less than other services. Even if you wrote your own will, stop by our conveniently located offices any day or time that works for you to have our lawyer review it. And our video conference service lets you talk to a lawyer live, from the comfort of your home.

Ask us about reviewing your will today.

Mistake 5: You Thought a Will Was All You Needed

Your will is only one part of taking care of assets and heirs. Like most people, the day may come when you need help with your finances or health.

What to Expect

Ever put the milk in the oven and wondered if you have dementia? It happens when you’re distracted.  Seriously though, dementia can start as early as 25.

Alzheimer Disease strikes celebrities too:

  • Spirit of the West singer John Mann
  • Columbo and Princess Bride star Peter Falk
  • Toronto journalist Richard Gwyn
  • U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

it’s good to know you have options.

Not Making That Mistake

If you became suddenly incapable because of dementia or serious illness, who would speak for you? With an advance care plan and advance directive, your health care and treatment wishes can be decided before that happens.

Advance directives, also called a power of attorney for personal care, are written instructions that take the worry out of decisions like:

  • whether to use life-saving measures such as CPR
  • your opinions on do not resuscitate (DNR) or do not intubate (DNI) orders
  • and administering pain medication.

Your family or a substitute decision maker you choose carries out your wishes on your behalf. 

Your family, friends, health care providers, substitute decision maker, lawyer, personal banker or investment advisor can all be part of your advance care planning. Then all you have to do is revisit your plan when you marry, divorce, have children or make other life changes.

Axess Law’s lawyers help you take the worry out of major health care decisions. Our lawyers can meet with you at any of our conveniently located offices, 7 days a week, at a time that works for you. Our video conference service even lets you talk to a lawyer live, from the comfort of your home.

Ask us about making your advance directive.

Bonus: Choosing Your Children’s Guardian

Your children rely on you to take care of them. What would they do if you were gone?

What to Expect

Underworld actor Kate Beckinsale and Material Girl singer Madonna can relate. Both lost parents at an early age, Kate when she was five and Madonna when she was only six years old.

Naturally you worry about being here for your own children. You buy insurance. Choosing a guardian for your children is the same.

Not Making That Mistake

You want your children to be healthy, stable and loved if you’re no longer capable of caring for them. A guardian manages their legal and financial affairs when you can’t.

Writing a will gives you a chance to name one or more family, friends or other guardians for your children.

Choose someone who:

  • shares your values – moral, religious or spiritual
  • shares your goals for your children’s education, upbringing and future
  • is single, preventing future child custody issues
  • is emotionally and physically healthy
  • preferably lives near your children’s schools and friends
  • and will keep them safe.

As a parent, you listen to your children’s dreams and wishes and plan fun times together. You want a guardian who will love them just as much as you do.

Axess Law’s lawyers can help you appoint a legal guardian. Drop into our conveniently located offices, 7 days a week, at a time that works for you. Our lawyers will discuss your children’s needs and how to protect them in your absence.

Ask us today about appointing a guardian for your children. Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s wills and estate services.


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