Leading Estate Planning And Elder Law Attorney Michele Ungvarsky, founding partner of E-Law in Las Cruces, NM, outlines the most common pitfalls to avoid while drafting a will. For more information please visit https://www.estradalawpc.com
— In a recent interview, Michele Ungvarsky, founding partner of E-Law in Las Cruces, NM, revealed the most common pitfalls to avoid while drafting a will.
For more information please visit https://www.estradalawpc.com
When asked to comment, Ungvarsky said, “If you’re in the early stages of beginning the estate planning process, then drafting a will is one of the first things you’ll want to consider. It’s important to properly create a will to avoid potential problems down the line.”
One prevalent mistake that people make after devising a will is forgetting to sign it.
“The state of New Mexico requires that the person making the will sign it, as well as two witnesses, both of whom must sign it in your presence and each other. Failing to do this means that the will might be invalidated in probate and your wishes might not be carried out.” All signatures must be notarized, thus you will need a notary present at the same time.
Setting up a will and forgetting about it is another commonplace error.
"A will could be seen as a living document. After establishing a will, it's important to make a plan to continually review and update it in case anything changes. Let's say that, over the course of time, you've sold off assets – or even acquired new assets - yet those assets are not included in the will. You'll want to ensure that your will is up-to-date and accurately reflects the situation of your current estate,” she added.
Another significant error that many people make is including assets or property that already have beneficiary designations.
When asked to elaborate, Ungvarsky said, "When it comes to deciding what to put in a will, you should only include property and assets that belong only to you - in other words, assets that are not jointly owned. Furthermore, you shouldn't include assets or property with designated beneficiaries such as 'payable-on-death or 'transfer-on-death.' Any conditions you set out for assets that already have designations or are jointly-owned will be invalidated and can lead to fights."
Underestimating the importance of retaining an attorney in drafting a will is another common misstep made by many.
"A lot of people seem to believe that putting a will together is an easy process; however, oftentimes, a lot of factors that need to be considered can easily be overlooked without the help of a professional. Wills aren't only about how to distribute assets but also cover funeral arrangements or caring for underage children in the future. A will should also have contingent plans built in to take care of the possible death or disability of a beneficiary. Ultimately, addressing these issues and cementing these plans in a will can make your loved one’s lives easier,” she said.
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