Expert: Prioritise your will writing

Published 27 Aug 2013

The very nature of writing a will can send anyone into somber state.

But the potential detriments associated with putting off writing your will are too great to ignore. It’s best to think of the generations below you the next time you set it aside for another time, Texas will lawyer Keith Morris wrote in a recent blog post for the Houston Chronicle.

Whether it’s a premature death or the onset of diminished capacity, procrastinating when it comes to wills can lead to costly inheritance disputes that could leave your estate in the hands of someone you never meant have it, or it could be a factor in the dissolution of a family, he wrote.

It’s never too soon to start writing your will. If you have children, Mr Morris states that you should clearly outline who would be their guardians if something happened to you. This also ensures your estate will go to your children when the time is right, leaving no room for the ambiguity.

But children aren’t the only beneficiaries of your estate. You can leave your inheritance to anyone you so choose, as long as the request is outlined clearly. After death, family members and close friends have been known to contest a will on the grounds that they should have been included in the will – especially when diminished capacity is involved.

Writing your will, regardless of estate size

Even if you feel you don’t have much to leave in your inheritance, it’s still important to define every item and clearly state to whom it will be left.

Vagueness is a surefire way to send the generations below you into serious and expensive legal scuffles as they work out what was left, regardless of financial value. Sentimental items can be equally as cherished among family members, so it’s best to think ahead to determine where, exactly, any disputes could arise.

Although writing your own will has become much more common, you should only go this route if you are fully prepared and have done all essential research.

Estate Planner Bruce Cameron recently spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald about what it takes to draft your own will. He said it will always help to know which family members want which smaller, less-valued items.

“It doesn’t hurt to know ahead of time which of your family members wants your collection of garden gnomes, grandma’s china, or the silver tea service,” he stated.

Without a clearly written will, contesting wills lawyers may be needed to resolve any disputes that arise.

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