Where There’s a Will There’s Not Always a Way: Five Things a Will Does NOT Accomplish

Wills are an extremely important part of any estate plan, and they are an excellent place to begin for many people. Unfortunately, many people have a mistaken belief that a last will and testament will be sufficient to handle all of their final wishes. The fact is, however, that there are quite a few things wills simply can’t accomplish.

Passing On Some Types of Property

Wills are great for passing on a home, car, or certain other pieces of property, but it can’t help with other types. The following kinds of property typically can’t be handled by a simple will:

  • Property held in a living trust
  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy where you are the one who named the beneficiary
  • Money that is held in a bank account that has a ‘payable-on-death’ designation
  • Community property that has a right of survivorship stipulation (including if it is your spouse)

Even if a particular piece of property can be handled in a will, it is often easier and more efficient to use another estate planning vehicle such as a trust. This is because trusts have additional benefits that can help your loved ones avoid certain taxes and possibly avoid the probate process.

Take Care of Your Pets

You can identify who you would like to take care of a pet in a will, but you can’t designate money to be used specifically for the care of your pet. Many people today want to set aside some money to cover any medical expenses for their pets to help ensure they are taken care of even after they are gone. If this is the case, a will is not sufficient.

Providing for Care of a Special Needs Beneficiary

If you have an adult child who has special care needs, you may not want to simply leave the money directly to them or their caregiver. Instead, creating a trust that can only be used for the care of this person will help provide protections to your child, as well as his or her caregivers.

Putting Conditions on Inheritance

If you want to leave money to a person or charity, but with some specific stipulations on how the money is to be used, you need something more than a simple will. Wills can help pass money along, but you will lose control over how it is used.

Leave Specific Funeral Instructions

Most people do not seek out a will until weeks after someone has died and the funeral has taken place. This is why it is a bad idea to try to put any funeral instructions into this type of document. Instead, creating a separate document with these instructions and giving it to the executor of your estate will help ensure your final wishes in this area are honored.

It’s Never Too Early for Estate Planning

If you want to make sure all your final wishes are carried out just how you want them, you need to start working with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. ProActive Legal Care can help you to choose the proper estate planning vehicles to accomplish all your goals. Please contact us to setup a meeting and see what steps need to be taken.

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