6 Things Not to Include in Your Will
You’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what to include in your will, like guardians for your minor children and who will inherit your assets. While you should devote intentional time to planning your will, it’s also wise to consider what not to include in your will. If you have certain things in your will, it can make it more challenging for family members to close your estate after your death. Let’s look at six specific things not to include in your will.
1. Proceeds From Accounts With a Beneficiary
A will is used to detail who will inherit your assets and property after your death. However, accounts and property that already list a beneficiary are not necessary for your will. Examples of this would be your life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and stock and bond accounts. When you open these accounts, you are instructed to list a beneficiary. As a result, the assets will automatically go to the beneficiary listed. This is why it’s vitally important to keep your beneficiaries current on all accounts!
2. Funeral Instructions
The main reason you shouldn’t include funeral instructions in your will is because of timing. Typically family members and loved ones will plan and hold the funeral service before the will is read. Therefore, it’s unnecessary to include funeral instructions in your will because your funeral likely would have already happened.
If you have specific requests or desires for your funeral, write them down in another document and leave them with a trusted loved one. It’s also wise to discuss this openly with your loved ones so everyone is on the same page.
3. Care for a Special Needs Loved One
If you’re the primary caregiver for a special needs child or family member, it’s important to be specific about care instructions in the event you are no longer here to care for them. Although, your will isn’t the right place to detail the care instructions for someone with special needs. The best place to arrange care for a special needs loved one is through a trust, like a special needs trust.
4. Leaving an Inheritance to Pets
Unfortunately, as much as you love your pet, they cannot inherit property or assets in your will. By law, animals cannot own actual property. However, there are some alternatives to consider if you really want to ensure your beloved pet is taken care of after your death.
First, you’ll want to leave your pets to a trusted family member or friend. This may be all you need to ensure your pets are cared for. You can also consider opening a pet trust fund. This type of trust fund is used specifically for the care of your pets.
5. Jointly-Owned Property
Jointly-owned property is also known as joint tenancy property. This essentially means that you own property with someone else. For example, a husband and wife usually jointly own their home. Since there are two equal owners for joint tenancy property, there’s no need to add this to your will. So, if you pass away first, the other owner will automatically receive the property. To avoid confusion, it’s best to leave jointly-owned property out of your will.
6. Property and Assets Listed in a Trust
A will isn’t the only document you’ll create when you create an estate plan. Many times you’ll include a trust in your overall estate plan. If you delegate certain assets and property to beneficiaries in a trust, there’s no need to include that in your will. Additionally, it can cause issues if there are inconsistencies in beneficiaries listed in the trust and will. Therefore, if you have already placed a property in a trust with beneficiaries, leave it out of your will.
How to Ensure Your Will is Valid
With all of these guidelines on what not to include in your will, how do you know if you are doing it correctly? The best way to be sure your will is legal and valid is to work with a trusted Florida estate planning attorney. Most things you shouldn’t include in your will are to prevent delays and confusion with your estate, so trusting an estate planning attorney keeps everything straightforward. In addition, these law professionals are experts in Florida estate planning laws. Estate planning attorneys can walk with you throughout this process so you can confidently make the right decisions for yourself and your family.
The Merriman Law Firm has the expertise to guide you with all of your will and estate planning needs. We have experience with large and complex estates, simple estate plans, and everything in between. We also specialize in probate and estate administration, trust administration, probate and estate litigation, trust litigation, and guardianship litigation. Schedule your free consultation with The Merriman Law Firm to get started.