Legal Tips and Resources
When creating a will, there is a lot of important information you’ll include. There are also some things you won’t include. The good news is, the items you leave out of your will can be included in the bigger estate plan. They just don’t belong in the will. The following are some items you won’t need to include in your will.
Certain Property Gifts
There are certain property gifts that shouldn’t be in a will, and for a variety of different reasons. A few examples include:
- Property you jointly own with another individual.
- Any property you’ve previously put in a living trust.
- Stocks, real estate, vehicles and bonds being held in a TOD form.
- Money you’ve named to a beneficiary in another document, such as an IRA or 401(k).
- Life insurance policy proceeds you’ve already named to someone.
- POD bank account money.
When you leave a gift to someone in your will, you can’t place conditions on the gift. For example, you couldn’t state “This money goes to Suzie if she converts to my religion.” You can place money in a trust for specific reasons, however. For example, your trust could be for a specific child to use for higher education.
Funeral and Burial Plans
Again, there is another document you’ll create in your estate plan dedicated entirely to your funeral and burial. In many cases, your will won’t be found or read until after your funeral. That’s not going to help anyone in your family who is scrambling to make funeral arrangements.
It may seem obvious, but there are individuals out there who try to include illegal activities in their wills. For example, they may leave a certain amount of money to an illegal drug ring, or to a program that encourages drug activity in minors. Those would not be validated or upheld by the executor.
Money for Pets
Your pets aren’t in a position to own anything, so leaving money to them isn’t a smart decision. Instead, you could leave your pet to a particular person you trust, and the money can be left to that person.
Special Care Instructions
If there is someone in your life with special needs, and you are the caretaker, you’ll need to leave instructions on how someone should care for him or her after your death. A will is not the avenue to give those instructions, however. A trust could be a better option.
Speaking With an Attorney
As you create a will, you’ll probably be more successful if you speak with an attorney about it. Contact an estate attorney, to discuss your obligations.