A will is an essential part of estate planning. If you already have a will in place, you are one step ahead of many people. While a will can allow you to choose how some of your assets will be distributed after your death, who will manage and distribute those assets and who will care for your child if you die, there are many things that a will can’t do.
Take a look at some of the examples below. If you only have a will, it is important to create a full estate plan with the help of an estate planning attorney.
- A will does not allow you to choose how your retirement account funds or life insurance policy funds are distributed after your death. You will need to make sure that your update your beneficiary designation forms for these particular assets. If you do not want retirement funds or life insurance proceeds to pass to a beneficiary (particularly a young beneficiary or one who is irresponsible with money) without restriction after your death, consult with an estate planning attorney.
- A will does not allow you to outline your funeral arrangement preferences. Usually, a will is not looked at until days after your death. You should outline your funeral planning ahead of time so that your loved ones can easily find this information after your death.
- A will does not allow you to leave certain property to pets. Pets are unable to own assets. Instead, you can create a pet trust that will allow you to leave money to a trustee who will be responsible for caring for your pet after your death. You can also outline instructions for the care of your pet.
- A will does not allow you to control the distribution of assets that are jointly owned. If you have jointly owned property, these assets will automatically be distributed to the other co-owner after your death. If you have questions about these assets, consult with an estate planning attorney.
- And remember, a will does not allow you to place unfair restrictions on gift distribution. For example, you are unable to leave property to your daughter with conditions that she must get married. If your will has a condition like this, the condition will not be effective.
While it is important to have a will, you may also need to take have other estate planning documents in place in order to properly plan for the future.
If you have any questions about your will, consult with an estate planning attorney.