The Biggest Mistakes People Make With Their Wills
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,580,369 (+1.46%)       Melbourne $968,248 (+0.35%)       Brisbane $884,749 (+1.39%)       Adelaide $811,373 (-0.34%)       Perth $760,863 (-2.94%)       Hobart $742,968 (+1.78%)       Darwin $648,153 (+0.66%)       Canberra $952,739 (+1.89%)       National $998,019 (+0.96%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $719,049 (-0.09%)       Melbourne $491,976 (+25.26%)       Brisbane $488,613 (+1.66%)       Adelaide $415,517 (+2.98%)       Perth $408,247 (-0.12%)       Hobart $506,404 (-0.82%)       Darwin $341,678 (-4.94%)       Canberra $481,116 (-2.08%)       National $504,022 (+1.79%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,856 (+1,115)       Melbourne 15,164 (+2,253)       Brisbane 8,441 (+272)       Adelaide 2,729 (+236)       Perth 6,841 (+1,523)       Hobart 1,229 (+73)       Darwin 276 (-10)       Canberra 1,109 (+217)       National 46,645 (+5,679)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,816 (+356)       Melbourne 8,019 (+4,046)       Brisbane 1,858 (+11)       Adelaide 509 (+3)       Perth 1,903 (-10)       Hobart 172 (+1)       Darwin 395 (+4)       Canberra 856 (+152)       National 22,528 (+4,563)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $780 (+$30)       Melbourne $570 ($0)       Brisbane $600 (-$30)       Adelaide $570 ($0)       Perth $630 (+$5)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $680 (+$5)       National $644 (+$4)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 (-$30)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $625 (+$25)       Adelaide $450 (-$10)       Perth $575 (+$5)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 (-$10)       Canberra $565 (+$5)       National $575 (-$3)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,423 (+399)       Melbourne 5,636 (+347)       Brisbane 4,280 (+665)       Adelaide 1,158 (+16)       Perth 1,894 (+159)       Hobart 373 (-3)       Darwin 149 (+7)       Canberra 629 (+31)       National 19,542 (+1,621)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,616 (+1,782)       Melbourne 5,988 (+275)       Brisbane 2,048 (+24)       Adelaide 365 (+22)       Perth 605 (-3)       Hobart 155 (+3)       Darwin 294 (+2)       Canberra 716 (+54)       National 18,787 (+2,159)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.57% (↑)        Melbourne 3.06% (↓)       Brisbane 3.53% (↓)     Adelaide 3.65% (↑)      Perth 4.31% (↑)        Hobart 3.85% (↓)     Darwin 5.62% (↑)        Canberra 3.71% (↓)       National 3.35% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.28% (↓)       Melbourne 5.81% (↓)     Brisbane 6.65% (↑)        Adelaide 5.63% (↓)     Perth 7.32% (↑)      Hobart 4.62% (↑)      Darwin 8.37% (↑)      Canberra 6.11% (↑)        National 5.93% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 0.9% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 27.6 (↓)       Melbourne 28.8 (↓)       Brisbane 30.9 (↓)       Adelaide 24.3 (↓)       Perth 34.1 (↓)       Hobart 28.7 (↓)     Darwin 36.9 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 29.9 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 28.6 (↓)       Melbourne 29.4 (↓)       Brisbane 30.6 (↓)       Adelaide 26.3 (↓)       Perth 39.8 (↓)       Hobart 22.1 (↓)       Darwin 37.9 (↓)       Canberra 33.4 (↓)       National 31.0 (↓)           
Share Button

The Biggest Mistakes People Make With Their Wills

The obvious one isn’t doing a will at all. But that is just one of many errors people make—often with potentially serious consequences.

Fri, Feb 17, 2023 8:49amGrey Clock 5 min

Everybody knows they should have a will, and not having one can leave heirs with a big mess. But just having a will isn’t enough. Big mistakes are common—from leaving decisions to the last minute and failing to update documents to mismatching beneficiary designations.

What follows are some of the biggest mistakes people make when doing their wills, according to attorneys who have seen these missteps far too often.


Of course, thinking about death is uncomfortable, and planning for it can be costly. But to have a say in the distribution of your assets after you die—what each heir will receive, what charities to support and other matters—timely planning is critical. Yet many people either don’t create the proper documents, or they attempt to cobble something together on their deathbed. These last-minute efforts can lead to a host of problems for the simple reason that decisions made in haste leave less time to think through the multiple what-ifs.

Last-minute preparation also raises the likelihood that a disgruntled heir could claim the will was made under duress or in a diminished capacity, says Rebecca Hedaya-Heller, founding partner of Heller & Associates, a law firm in North Woodmere, N.Y.

Another reason not to procrastinate: A document known as a revocable trust, or living trust, can make it possible to distribute assets while you are still living and can be useful if you become incapacitated. A living trust can be especially important in states such as New York, California and Florida that have more restrictive probate laws. Living trusts have other uses as well, such as keeping things out of the public record since trusts are private documents, Ms. Hedaya-Heller says. This means that a family’s affairs can be kept private, including the value of the estate and to whom assets have been given.

Dropping large inheritances in heirs’ laps

When leaving significant money to heirs, people sometimes choose to bequeath it outright, all at once. This can be a mistake, says David Handler, a partner in the trusts and estates practice group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Children in their early 20s or 30s, or even later in life, may not be able to handle such windfalls. Giving them unfettered access to it, he says, can be imprudent.

A better option, Mr. Handler says, is to leave the assets to a trust to manage the assets after death. Such trusts also can offer tax and asset-protection advantages to the beneficiaries, he says. For example, they can be designed so that a divorcing spouse or creditor from a lawsuit cannot reach the trust assets. A trust also can be structured to avoid additional estate tax when the assets pass to siblings or children upon the beneficiary’s death, regardless of the trust’s value or the beneficiary’s net worth.

Forgetting digital assets

As more people invest in cryptocurrency and NFTs, it becomes critical to ensure someone will have the ability to navigate their digital wallets once they pass away, says Jonathan Forster, partner at Weinstock Manion in Los Angeles. “If you have a digital wallet and no one has that information, the crypto is lost,” he says.

Be sure to keep good records of your cryptocurrency and leave heirs instructions about how to access this information. Don’t store private keys—strings of letters and numbers that allow access to digital assets—on an old, offline computer, for instance, because the hardware could be inadvertently thrown out and the assets lost. Instead, consider using a special device known as a hardware wallet to manage your crypto assets, and make sure heirs know how to find and access the device.

Additionally, people should not include their passwords or private keys in a will itself, which becomes public through the probate process.

Not making regular updates

Write it and forget it is a common theme for wills. But the documents should be updated every five to 10 years because intentions and circumstances can change over time. “Life happens,” says J. Whitfield Wilks, director at Novare Capital Management, an investment management firm in Charlotte, N.C.

People who have made out their wills years earlier can change their minds about who should get what and which charities to support. Appropriate guardians for children, too, can change over time, which is why periodic reviews are critical. For instance, says Mr. Wilks, 20 years after a will is drawn up, a sibling who was named as executor could be dead or estranged, in a nursing home or otherwise incapacitated.

Mismatching beneficiaries

Even if they have an updated will or living trust, many people forget to update their beneficiary designations on other things—such as pension accounts, individual retirement accounts and other investments, and life-insurance policies. Because a beneficiary designation generally supersedes the terms of a will, there can be unintended consequences. These can include leaving substantial sums of money to an ex-spouse or failing to leave specific assets to a child or grandchild since an original designation may have been made before they were born. “It’s an ongoing process to make sure these things match and your wishes will be implemented,” Mr. Wilks says.

Not allowing for flexibility

Sometimes wills or living trusts are worded in ways that cause unintended consequences, such as leaving more or less money than desired to an individual or charity.

For example, Mr. Handler says, imagine a man with an estate worth $10 million whose will says to leave $1 million to charity and the rest to his children. Under that scenario, the children would get $9 million. But if the estate’s value drops and is now worth only $4 million, the charity would still receive $1 million and the children only $3 million.

People also have to be careful when leaving a particular stock or bank account to a particular child, he says. When the person dies, if the asset is no longer owned or has dropped precipitously in value, that child could unintentionally be left with nothing or significantly less than their siblings, he says.

Not heading off conflicts

Conflicts between heirs tend to happen more often when they are surprised by the contents of wills or trusts, says Mr. Forster, which is why the Los Angeles attorney says he recommends clients be upfront with beneficiaries about their intentions. While these conversations can be hard, having them in advance mitigates the risk of resentment, and possibly litigation, among heirs after a loved one dies.

Mr. Forster offers the example of a mother who was planning to leave a significantly larger share of her estate to her daughter, a teacher. This move would have left her son, a doctor, mostly disinherited. Although the mother loved both her children and was on good terms with both, her estate-planning decisions were based on their respective financials.

Acting on Mr. Forster’s advice, she spoke to the son before drafting the estate plan and was surprised to hear he felt snubbed and unloved, which wasn’t her intent. As a result, she amended her plans, still leaving the daughter more money than the son, but to a lesser extent.

Because the family discussed the situation, the son won’t “have to spend the rest of his life wondering if he did something wrong or whether his mom didn’t love him as much,” Mr. Forster says. “At least they got to have that conversation.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Inflation takes a dip, while bananas and melons make a mash of prices
Why Is Everyone So Unhappy at Work Right Now?
China Tried Using Economic Ties to Bring Taiwan Closer. It Isn’t Working.
By JOYU WANG and Nathaniel Taplin 28/11/2023
Inflation takes a dip, while bananas and melons make a mash of prices

After appeals to cashed-up Australians to stop spending, there’s a little inflationary relief in sight

Wed, Nov 29, 2023 2 min

The rate of inflation in Australia has fallen to 4.9 percent, according to data from the Consumer Price Index. Inflation is down from 5.6 percent in September and a peak of 8.4 percent in December 2022.

The housing, transport and food and non-alcoholic beverages sectors were the strongest contributors to the October increase, which is consistent with trends shown in ABS data from September.

“CPI inflation is often impacted by items with volatile price changes like Automotive fuel, Fruit and vegetables, and Holiday travel,” said acting head of price statistics at the ABS, Leigh Merrington. “It can be helpful to exclude these items from the headline CPI to provide a view of underlying inflation.” 

Food and non-alcoholic beverages rose from 4.7 percent in September to 5.3 percent in the 12 months to October, driven by the rising prices of melons and bananas. 

Banana prices are trending upwards, contributing to higher food prices overall. Credit: Nigel Killeen/Getty Images

In good news for would-be home builders, new dwelling prices rose 4.7 percent, the lowest annual rise since August 2021, as a result of easing material supply conditions.

While the ABS noted that electricity prices rose 10.1 percent in the year to October, Mr Merrington said it could have been worse, if not for the introduction of the Energy Bill Relief Fund.

“Electricity prices have risen 8.4 per cent since June 2023. Excluding the rebates, Electricity prices would have increased 18.8 per cent over this period,” Mr Merrington said.  

The inflation figures come ahead of the final meeting for the year of the RBA Board next Tuesday. The board raised the cash rate by 25 basis points at the November meeting following an increase in the rate of inflation in September. 



Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Population projections: We’re getting older and having fewer babies
By Bronwyn Allen 24/11/2023
How Starbucks Lost the Top Spot in China’s Coffee Race
By HEATHER HADDON 20/11/2023
Australia has the world’s highest rate of mortgage pain
By Bronwyn Allen 26/10/2023
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop