One of the key reasons for having an estate plan is to be able to designate family members, other loved ones and worthy organizations as the beneficiaries of your assets. That may seem like a simple enough task. However, it’s crucial that you specify all of your beneficiaries clearly.
Many a do-it-yourself will has been the cause of family drama because of a misspelled name, a name that two or more people share, lack of specificity or someone who can’t be located. This can also slow down the entire process of settling the estate and cost money that will diminish its value.
How can you avoid problems with your estate plans?
Every person you name as your beneficiary should be identified clearly by their relationship to you (especially if they’re family) and their full name. It’s also helpful for the person you choose as executor (as well as your estate planning attorney) to have a list of everyone’s phone numbers and addresses. Be sure to keep these updated.
If you’re leaving money or other assets to charitable organizations, be specific about these as well. A lot of organizations have similar names. It’s best to list each organization by its full name and its federal tax identification number.
As with individuals, it’s important to keep this information current. Otherwise, you could end up leaving money to a charity that became mired in scandal and to which you stopped making contributions but never got around to removing from your will. Meanwhile, a new group to which you’ve begun devoting time and money could be left out of your estate plan.
The more specific your estate plan is in every way, the more likely it is that your wishes will be carried out exactly as you intend.