When planning for the future, drafting a will is a key step if you want your assets to be distributed according to your wishes. However, knowing what should not be included in your will is equally important. Some elements, if added, might complicate the estate distribution process and potentially invalidate your entire will. In this blog, we’ll delve into common oversights people often make when crafting their wills.

Writing A Will
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Time-Specific Instructions

When writing a will, it might be tempting to manage every detail of how your assets should be used or maintained. However, including instructions that are time-specific may cause more harm than good. For example, specifying that funds should be used for a particular purpose within a certain time frame can create confusion and legal hurdles if the timing is no longer relevant or if the specified conditions cannot be met. Moreover, as life circumstances and laws change, what makes sense at the time of writing might not be relevant. It’s advisable to focus on more enduring guidance that reflects your core intentions for your estate rather than restricting your executor with impractical instructions.

Conditional Gifts

Conditional gifts in a will, such as leaving a piece of property to someone only if they meet a specific condition, may lead to significant legal challenges. While it might seem straightforward to say, “My nephew can inherit the car if he graduates from university,” such conditions can be difficult to enforce and delay asset distribution. Instead, you can consider the underlying intention behind the condition. If the goal is to encourage education, setting up a trust might be a more legally sound approach. Trusts can be designed to release funds or assets based on achieving certain milestones, potentially reducing the risk of contestation or invalidation that can affect conditional gifts in a will.

Non-Transferable Assets Or Rights

Certain assets or rights cannot legally be transferred through a will. This can include things like government or military pensions that cease upon death or digital accounts protected by terms of service that do not allow transferability. Including such non-transferable items in a will can create confusion and unnecessary complications during the estate administration process. Consider reviewing which assets are actually transferable and focus on including those in your will. For items like digital assets, you can consider leaving separate instructions or permissions that enable your executors to manage or close these accounts rather than attempting to pass them on through your will.

Joint Assets

When it comes to joint assets, such as property or bank accounts held with someone else, it’s important to understand that these typically do not need to be included in your will. These assets usually pass directly to the surviving co-owner through a legal concept known as “right of survivorship.” This means that upon the death of one owner, their share of the asset can automatically transfer to the remaining owner(s), irrespective of what may be stated in the will. Including joint assets in your will may lead to confusion or even conflict among your heirs, especially if the will’s directives contradict the established rights of survivorship. To avoid such issues, it’s advisable to clearly identify which of your assets are owned jointly. This clarity can help you align your estate plan with legal norms.

Need Assistance In Writing A Will?

At Linda Emery & Associates, we can help you navigate the intricate details of wills and estate planning. Our Central Coast lawyers will help you create a comprehensive will that is compliant with current laws, reflecting your true intentions and making the process streamlined for your loved ones. If you’re ready to articulate your final wishes, contact our family lawyers on the Central Coast.

Call Us (02) 4323 4766