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3 common mistakes people make regarding their wills

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Estate Planning |

If there is one mistake that too many people make when it comes to estate planning, it is probably procrastination. A shockingly high number of adults do not have any estate plan on record and leave both themselves and their loved ones vulnerable in the event of an emergency.

Those who do establish estate plans may not necessarily follow the right steps. People may create just one document, often a will. They may not learn about what Kentucky state law requires. In fact, they might just download a boilerplate template from the internet and add a few personal details to the document. The issue with this approach to estate planning is that it sets someone up for errors and leaves them with documents that the courts won’t enforce. The following are some of the most common mistakes testators make when drafting a will in Kentucky.

Failing to secure witnesses

With rare exceptions for special circumstances, Kentucky law requires witnesses for wills. There is plenty of incentive for people to commit fraud or to coerce a testator into leaving them property. Therefore, having witnesses present to affirm someone’s identity and note their state of mind when signing can be very important for authenticating those documents later. Best practices for testamentary documents in Kentucky include having two witnesses who do not benefit from the estate sign to validate the testator’s signature.

Leaving out family members to disinherit them

It is common for people to have better relationships with certain family members than others. Many people have begun to deviate from the idea that they must split their estate evenly among their children. Testators may now leave one child far more than others or may choose to disinherit someone with whom they have a difficult relationship. There are certain steps people need to take when leaving uneven bequests or disinheriting someone. Simply leaving an individual out of the documents may not actually achieve the testator’s goal of disinheriting them.

Failing to review the documents occasionally

Another common estate planning error involves making the assumption that the will is useful in perpetuity. Family circumstances and finances change rapidly, and estate planning documents may need to change to reflect someone’s new circumstances. It is often a smart move to review estate planning paperwork every few years after drafting the documents. People also may need to change beneficiaries and other key details when their personal holdings or relationships change.

Taking the time to establish thorough and legally compliant wills can protect an individual and the people closest to them. Those who avoid common estate planning mistakes can leave behind more useful and enforceable wills.