A will provides the foundation for your estate plan, instructing family members how you wish your assets to be divided and cared for. Given the importance of creating a last will and testament, it’s important to understand not only what you should include, but also what you should never put in your will. Leaving certain assets out of your will can actually help your loved ones after you’re gone. Here’s how.
The last thing you want to do is make a mistake that leaves your loved ones saddled with a hefty tax bill or a legal battle on their hands. And the thought of your children or grandchildren left with difficult choices is enough to encourage many people to create a will, especially when it comes to choosing a legal guardian for your child.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about wills, including what you should never put in a will, and plenty of other tips! And once you are armed with this information, be sure to check out online will writing services that allow you to write you will quickly and hassle-free from the convenience of your home.
What Is A Will?
Before we get into it, let’s have a quick recap for those in the room that need it. A will is a legal document that states your final wishes. Typically, in a last will and testament, you outline your final wishes on how your assets should be divided. They can include items like your home, savings, property, and even who should care for your children. These wishes are then carried out by an attorney and the executor of the will.
If you pass away without a will, problems can arise for your loved ones. It’s not unusual for family members and heirs to be left confused and in conflict with how to properly and legally divide existing assets. Going to probate court to resolve these matters can be costly, time-consuming, and devastating for loved ones who may still be grieving.
These days, writing a will is quite easy. You can visit your local attorney and have them draft the legally binding document for you. Unfortunately, attorney fees can be costly and it’s also somewhat inconvenient to arrange a time to take care of all of the paperwork required for a last will and testament. Alternatively, you can use an online will writing service. Both options are straightforward and will help you to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of legally.
What You Should Never Put In Your Will (And What You Should)
In your will, you can include who will inherit your property, what to do with existing bank accounts, cars, jewelry, savings, or other items. Having it in a written document can also help to avoid any conflicts among family members. Your wishes will be legally respected and your loved ones will receive the items that you wanted them to have.
Now there are other ways that you can leave your estate to be managed, such as trusts and letters of instruction, but most commonly, people leave their final wishes written in a will. Most wills will outline the following:
Choosing an executor for the will
Guardianship wishes for your kids
Division of property or assets
Division of money
Clarification on resolving debts
You must write a will to ensure that your belongings are appropriately divided and looked after. A will is an excellent way to get your affairs in order and can help prevent any family fall-outs.
Having said that, also be aware of what you should never put in your will.
What Not To Include In A Will?
There are a few different things that you should never include in your will. We will walk you through what these are and explain why these should be left out of your will. Let’s dive in and see what you should leave out when writing your will.
Joint Tenancy Property
Any property that you have already signed over to a loved one cannot be included in your will. So if you have already granted the right of survivorship to a tenant (partner or child), then by law the property will pass to them when you pass away. This means that they will then own your share of the property too. Even if you have written in your will that you wish someone else to own the property, the right of survivorship document legally holds more right and what is written in your will is disregarded.
Property In A Living Trust
Some people avoid the lengthy probate process by putting their property in a living trust. When you do this, the property can not be included in your will. A property left in your will would have to go through probate, which is inconsistent with the living trust document you will have previously signed.
A living trust states that your property will pass to your beneficiaries when you pass away, but one person, a trustee, makes the decisions about the future of the property. Many people find this an easier way to leave their property to multiple beneficiaries (children or grandchildren) without any fights about its future.
If your property is in a living trust, you can change this through the correct trust forms if you now want to include it in your will. The property can be either in a living trust or a will, not both.
Assets With Named Beneficiaries
Assets that already have named beneficiaries should not be left in your will. These beneficiaries often have payables or transfer on death agreements which means at the point of your death, the assets are transferred to the named beneficiaries. So there is no need to leave them in your will, as instructions about their fate already exist.
If you do want one document that states where these assets should go, you can create a letter of instruction that will detail who the beneficiaries of these assets are. Popular assets that already have named beneficiaries are:
Joint bank accounts
Pension plans and retirement accounts
Life insurance policies
Any investment or brokerage accounts
Gifts with Conditions
Most of us want to leave physical items to our loved ones along with any money we might have. And while it is fine to leave a car or jewelry to a loved one in a will, you cannot add any conditions to the gift, such as your loved one can only have the car if they continue with their education.
Legally, there is no way this can be enforced, so it’s best to leave these conditions out of the will. If you do want to state how your inheritance should be used, it is best to leave the money or item in a trust. This gives you more control even after you pass away and can be a good option if you are worried about a loved one frittering away their money.
While many of us plan our funerals and instruct our family and friends how we would like it to proceed, it is not always worth including this information in a will. Often, the will is not executed until after the funeral, so your loved ones would not see your requests.
Instead, it is better to pass this information to your loved one while you are still alive, or in a letter of instruction instead. There won’t be any lengthy processes for them to access this information, and they can carry out your wishes with ease.
Care For A Loved One
If you currently care for someone with additional needs or a disability, then you will want to know they are cared for after you pass away. But a will is not the right place to do this. Instead, a trust would be the better option. There are lots of estate planning options that you can consider here aside from a will to ensure that your loved one is cared for.
The same applies to any pets that you might leave behind. Some trusts will allow you to designate a beneficiary to care for your pet. Often, money or another asset is left to help cover the cost of care for your pet. Not all states allow living animals and people to be left in a will, so be sure to check this information before including them in a trust or will document.
That’s all of what you should never put in a will. Be sure to leave your joint bank accounts, life insurance policies, and any pets or future care for children out of your will. Instead, you can opt for a letter of instructions or trusts that will ensure your wishes are carried out correctly.
Remember that when writing your will, there are many online services including Wills.com that will help you create your will easily. Be sure to check them out today!