Estate planning is one of those things that people tend to put off, even when they know they should do it and they honestly want to do it. It’s just easy to procrastinate and push it down the road as something you’ll do next month or next year or the year after that.
The risk of doing this, of course, is that you’ll end up in a situation where you’re likely to pass away without a will. This can lead to disputes between family members, questions about what you would have wanted, the loss of excessive assets to taxes, the need for complex court cases and many other ramifications that you’d rather avoid.
But what if you find yourself in the hospital, nearing the end of your life, and you realize you don’t have a will. Can you make a so-called “deathbed will” by writing one out, or can you use an oral will by simply telling your heirs what you want? Is that actually going to stand?
Improper wills often don’t stand
An unofficial or improper will is not likely to be legally valid. This could be a hastily written deathbed will. It could be a handwritten or holographic will. It could be an oral will or a set of instructions given to your heirs at your bedside. Many of these aren’t legally applicable and are more likely to be challenged.
The issue is just that your heirs have a lot of reasons to consider the validity of the will. If it was an oral will, how can they know that the person who heard it is telling the truth? If it’s a deathbed will, was it written so fast that there are numerous errors or will they argue that you no longer had the mental capacity to draft it? If it’s a handwritten will, which usually can’t be recognized anyway, how do they know who really wrote it?
Avoiding disputes and confusion
To really avoid all of these complications, the key is just to make a will as far in advance as you can. Don’t put it off and you can ensure that your wishes are actually met.