Creating a will is a crucial part of a complete, long-term financial plan. Not having one can create major issues for your loved ones after you’re gone.

Of course, not having a will at all is the biggest mistake of the lot, but since you’re reading this article, we’ll assume you’ve made sure to get yours in order! Instead, we’re going to focus on major mistakes people can make when sorting theirs out.

Waiting too long to make one

You might be in the best shape of your life and not too worried about what happens to your estate when you’re gone. However, this is a big mistake. Like with anything in life we can never know what is around the corner. It’s uncommon but tragedies do happen, and when something happens to someone without a will, it just makes the situation worse for those left behind.

Waiting too long can also have implications when you’re older as unfortunately some people lose the capacity to make their own decisions. This can render a will redundant and can lead to familial disputes. Ensure yours is done when you’ve still got your wits about you.

Doing it DIY

Many people assume you can just write your wishes down on a piece of paper and sign it and, voila, you have a will. This is wrong. Wills should be arranged very carefully to meet legally binding criteria. This includes having non-related witnesses, naming executors, being unclear in explanations and other pitfalls that can lead to disputes.

It is essential to seek professional advice when formulating a will to avoid such issues arising.

Missing out assets

Another issue when creating a will is simply forgetting to add certain assets. Key things such as savings pots, your home and other significant assets will likely not go forgotten. However, what about that classic car in the garage, or the antique serving spoons you inherited from your grandmother? Everything needs to be accounted for, otherwise again this can lead to familial disputes.

In the modern age it is even worth having express wishes for what you would like to happen to things like social media accounts, computer files or other digital possessions. It might be more intangible, but it still matters.

Not updating

This is a huge mistake that can create major issues for your estate. Your will should be a living document, not just something you write once and stuff in a drawer (it should be somewhere under lock and key anyway!). If your financial situation or any other aspect of your wealth and possessions changes, then this needs to be accounted for in the will. In some cases, creating an amendment is sufficient, but if larger changes occur to your theoretical estate, then this can require a new draft entirely. It is important to consult with a professional either way to make sure.

Forgetting stepchildren

This is a quirky but very relevant problem in 2023. With modern blended families evermore common, if you’ve got stepchildren you need to specify them in the will, assuming you wish to leave them something. This is a curious problem in that you might just refer to all your kids as “my children” but in the complexities of legal interpretation, this can open up doubt about whether that just means your biological children.

It is better to expressly state “my children and stepchildren” where necessary to avoid all doubt.

Using the wrong witnesses

Witnessing the signing of the will is an essential part of what makes it valid. There are a few ways this can go wrong. The two witnesses must be over age 18. They must not be beneficiaries or married to someone who might be a beneficiary. They must not be related to you in anyway, either biologically or through your partner.

While some of these might seem like obvious errors, they happen all the time and lead to much worse outcomes for your estate. For even the most straightforward of wills it is important to consult with a professional who can guide you through the process to set you up for the best outcome possible.

Any opinions stated are honestly held but are not guaranteed and should not be relied upon.
The information contained in this document is not to be regarded as an offer to buy or sell, or the solicitation of any offer to buy or sell, any investments or products.
The content of this document is for information only. It is advisable that you discuss your personal financial circumstances with a financial adviser before undertaking any investments.
All the data contained in the communication is believed to be reliable but may be inaccurate or incomplete. Unless otherwise specified all information is produced as of 18th July 2023.