Wills are one of the major ways that individuals can set up what will happen with their assets when they are gone from this world. An important thing for people to be aware of is that there are many different things that, when not properly taken into account when it comes to wills, could endanger a will's ability to ensure that a person's wishes regarding asset distribution are accurately carried out after their death.
One is the specific requirements a will has to comply with. Each state has its own set of rules regarding what needs to happen in order for a will to be valid. When forming a will, it is incredibly important to be aware of and comply with the applicable rules, as failure to do so could result in a will being found invalid.
Another is assets that have their post-death distribution controlled by something other than a will. Many life insurance policies and retirement accounts fall under this category, as their post-death distribution is often controlled by who is named as a beneficiary in the account/policy, and thus are generally unaffected by what a will says. Understanding what assets have their own rules regarding post-death distribution and creating a coordinated estate plan that takes into account what to do in regards to these special assets can be very important.
Another is major life changes following a will being formed. Some people might think that, once they've made a will, they never have to do anything with the will again. However, when major life changes occur, like the birth of a new child, it can be very important to update one's estate plan, including one's will, to reflect what your wishes are in light of these new changes. If a person does not update a will following a major life change, it could result in the person's family facing complicated legal proceedings following the person's death and could lead to statutes being applied that lead to a distribution of assets occurring that is different from what the person would have wanted.
Thus, there are a great many things it can be important to keep in mind when it comes to wills. Experienced estate planning attorneys understand the various rules and important considerations when it comes to wills and can help individuals develop wills and estate plans which take such rules and considerations into account.
Source: Daily Finance, "4 Things You Didn't Know About Wills - But Should," Dan Caplinger, June 28, 2014