Clients often suggest, “I just need a simple will”. That may be true, but a little careful thought by an experienced attorney could save your loved ones a lot of money and time. For instance, did you know:

  • You should verify the exact name and address of a charity named in your will? Recently, a will left a home to the “Boston Chapter of Hadassah”. No entity existed by that name, resulting in a trial, an appeal, and appointment of a trustee to manage the real estate. All those costs came out of the value of the home, at the cost of the charity that eventually benefited from the carelessly worded will.
  • If you leave “all my assets” to a loved one, this does not usually include your IRA or retirement plan? Usually, disposition of retirement assets is governed by a beneficiary designation, filed with the retirement plan. Assets will be distributed accordingly regardless of what your will says.
  • A joint account does not pass under your will? In most cases, jointly held bank accounts & other property pass directly to the joint owner, regardless of what the will says. If one person has their name on your account as a matter of convenience, it is necessary to say so, to avoid this result, or a bitter, expensive dispute among your heirs.

Conclusion? Spend a little extra time to chat with counsel before that “simple will” is drafted. The two of you may discover something in your affairs that warrants a little extra attention, avoiding unnecessary expense and heartache at a later date.