Your last will and testament is an important part of your estate plan and final wishes, but a will does have limitations. Here are some of the things you shouldn’t expect your will to handle.
A Will Doesn’t Leave Funeral Instructions
The will may not be found until days or even weeks after the death. This is much too late to help those who are making decisions about your funeral service and disposition of the body. If you want to let your loved ones know what you want for your funeral, make a separate document that tells them your wishes. Let your spouse, children or executor know where it is.
A Will Won’t Keep Your Estate Out of Probate
Contrary to popular opinion, if you die intestate, without a will, your estate won’t go to the state. It will still go to your beneficiaries. The key difference is that your estate will be divided as to your wishes if you have a will. Having a will does not avoid probate. Your estate still must go through probate to give your creditors time to collect from your estate. To avoid probate, you might want to consider a trust.
A Will Won’t Reduce Estate Taxes
A will does not help your beneficiaries avoid estate taxes, either federal or state. You can work with your estate planning lawyer to reduce the tax bill by setting up a trust.
A Will Can’t Leave Certain Types of Property to Beneficiaries
If you own property with another person, called joint tenancy, you probably can’t leave your share to a third person. Property that is part of a trust cannot be delegated through the will. You have to abide by the trust documents. Most life insurance policies have a named beneficiary. You cannot change the beneficiary in your will. Any property that has a named beneficiary cannot be transferred in your will. This could include your pension plan, retirement accounts or property held in transfer-on-death forms.
You Can’t Leave Money to Pets in Your Will
This is a favorite movie trope. Pets cannot own property, so instead of leaving your estate to an animal, leave your pet and property to a person who will take care of your pet on your death. You don’t need to set up a trust for your pet, just find someone you trust.
Got Questions About a Will?
Talk to your will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT about your will. You’re never too old or young to outline your wishes about your estate.
Thanks to Sweeney Legal, LLC for their insight into estate planning and what wills can do.