Here are some of the most common issues I see that you should do your best to avoid in order to make life easier for those left behind:
- Thinking you are too young. Once you are 18, you are old enough to have a will in place. Having a will is always easier than not, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be a certain age. If you have assets or dependants, it’s necessary, but you can have a will in place earlier than that to make it easier on your family if the worst should happen.
- Blindly putting assets in joint ownership. This can make sense, but it can also be devastating when done wrong or in the wrong situation. Get professional advice from a lawyer, accountant or both before adding someone on title with you.
- Thinking a will is all you need. Powers of attorney are at least as important. Get those done too. Same goes for placing beneficiaries wherever you can, such as on life insurance or a registered investment.
- Thinking that your beneficiaries will be responsible with money at a young age. I have often had to talk people out of letting their children have their inheritance at age 18. Think about how responsible you were with money at 18. Now imagine you had been given $500,000.00. Be sure to have trusts in place in your will.
- Thinking that everyone will understand why you left unequal gifts. People get angry with wills, and if they can’t yell at you, they will yell at their siblings. Families have been torn apart because parents were unwilling to talk about the contents of their wills before their deaths. Have the conversation now, so that your children will still have each other when you’re gone.
- Thinking that more complicated is better. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t. Before you go ahead and do something complex, get advice from multiple professionals to ensure that it will do what you think it will.