Three Things a Will can’t do
Wills are an integral part of a good estate plan. Yet as an estate planning and probate law firm, we often recommend a plan that is built on a living trust. In fact, we offer a free monthly seminar that we call a Living Trust Seminar. The reason we do this is because, in most cases, wills simply will not do everything needed for a smooth transition of property. Here are three big things a will won’t do for you.
1. Provide Funeral Plans
You can certainly include your funeral instructions in your will however, in most families, the will is usually not located or read until days or weeks after you die. To be sure your funeral is managed the way you wish it to be, pre-plan your funeral yourself and leave written instructions separate from the will and let your loved ones know where that place is.
2. Transfer Certain Types of Property
When you have family keepsakes or personal property that you want to leave to certain family members, a will is a great tool. However, certain types of property cannot transfer when you die. For example, property that is owned as joint tenancy, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, transfer on death accounts or anything within a will, will pass on automatically because of the way you own it. Your will cannot affect these property classifications.
3. Avoid Probate
When you pass away and your property has not been placed in a trust, probate is the court procedure that validates a will and puts its directives into motion. This process of probate can take many months and often involves the help of an attorney. If your will was created to transfer property, probate is a certainty. If your estate is small, it may be possible to do an informal probate which is less complicated and can usually be processed more quickly.
If would like to avoid these consequences, you may choose one of these:
- Transfer your property to family members or charities while you are still living
- Set up accounts that will transfer ownership of your assets through payment-on-death
- Create life insurance policies with beneficiaries named
- Name your family members as beneficiaries on your retirement accounts
- Set up a living trust which will own and manage your property while you are alive, and then pass it along smoothly to your beneficiaries after you have passed
- Naming your family as beneficiaries on your retirement accounts
Learn more about wills and revocable living trusts by visiting one of our upcoming seminars. You can find dates, times and locations, and register for one by visiting our website.