Your last will and testament is an essential element in any comprehensive estate plan. It helps divide up your personal effects, including heirlooms and property. However, there are some functions that a will cannot perform. Before you assume that you can use a will to handle all of your property and issues after death, review some examples of what you are not allowed to include.
Dispose of Property in a Trust
A trust is a fiduciary tool used to hold items you want taken out of your name. Trusts are a good way to reduce taxes before and after death. When an asset is transferred into the trust, it is not required to be counted as assets under your name. Some trusts allow you to take property out once it is deposited, and others do not. A trust uses a beneficiary designation or a grantee to name successors who will benefit. Thus, you can not handle the disposition of a trust in a will.
Divide Property That Is Co-Owned
You may have purchased property with your sister at some point. The two of you own it as a joint-tenancy. When you or she dies, the property automatically passes to the co-owner unless there is a specific document that allows your heirs to inherit your portion. You cannot transfer property held in common with another in a will. If you want your heirs to get your share, you will have to do it through other legal means.
Leave Your Pets Something
If you are an animal lover, you may want to ensure that your pets are cared for, much like a child. However, unlike a child, you cannot name a guardian for a pet in your will. You also cannot leave money or property to a pet in a will. You must make these decisions in another document, not your will. The Probate court will not recognize these wishes.
Explain Your Funeral Wishes
You should decide how you want your remains taken care of after death and make sure these wishes are documented. However, a will is not the proper place for this to occur. The reason is simple — the timing is not right. A will is not read, and probate is not opened until after your funeral. Therefore, you should leave these instructions in another document to be held by your estate planning attorney or family member.
Creating a will is a responsible act that can help make sure your family is cared for after death. For more insight on how the document works and with help drafting one, get in touch with an estate planning lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer today.