Many people talk about drafting a Will, but unfortunately, they often wait until the very last minute to do it. Preparing a Will is not something that should be done in haste.
When is the worst time to draft your Will?
One of the worst times to draft your Will is if you suddenly and unexpectedly become ill or go into the hospital. Many people find themselves in this situation and worry that they do not have a Will or that the Will they have is not truly what they want. Those times are often when people start to think, “I may die and I want to make sure that I have things done right.” Preparing a Will or revising a Will under this kind of pressure is not the best time for making these important decisions.
Occasionally, a Will or a change to an existing Will is made by somebody and then shortly thereafter they die. When somebody is ill or in the hospital, especially if they are in ICU or they are taking medications such as pain relievers and other drugs that can affect their cognitive ability, there is a danger that they do not have the ability to understand what their estate consists of and what they are doing with their estate in the Will. There is a line often used in television and movies about whether someone is “of sound mind and body.” If a person does a Will, particularly when they are physically or mentally incapacitated, some key questions will be considered by a court and possibly a jury:
Key Questions About the Validity of a Will:
- Did the person have sufficient mental ability to understand that he or she was making a Will?
- Did the person have sufficient mental ability to understand the effect of the act of making a Will?
- Did the person have sufficient mental ability to understand the general nature and extent of his or her property?
- Did the person have sufficient mental ability to know his or her kin and the natural objects of his or her bounty and their claims on him or her?
- Did the person who created the Will accurately put down in the Will what the person’s genuine wants and desires were?
- And, did the person have sufficient memory to collect in his or her mind all the facts and elements necessary to transact the business of making a Will, hold all those facts and elements in their mind long enough to perceive their obvious relation to each other and form a reasonable judgment as to those facts and elements to execute the Will?
Creating a Will while you are in the hospital or ill sets up a potential risk that there could be a fight in court for years over whether you had a valid Will or not. This can financially ruin an estate and damage or destroy family relationships.
The best time to do your Will is when you have had adequate time to carefully think over what you want your Will to say and do.
Ideally, you should schedule a time to meet with your CPA or financial planner and determine what property you own and who you want that property to go to when you die. Then take that information and meet with your attorney–actually, take time to consider who the beneficiary or beneficiaries should be as well as who you want to appoint to serve as the executor of your Will.
When is the best time to draft your Will?
- When you have had time to think about it;
- When you know what your property is;
- When you know who your family is; and,
- When it is at a time that you were not mentally or physically stressed, ill, or incapacitated.
Ultimately this leads to your Will being a well thought out plan that makes sense for you, your estate, and your whole family.