A will is a basic estate planning document most people use to outline their wishes concerning what should happen to their property after they die. While there are several estate planning alternatives that also serve this purpose, in many cases, a will is sufficient.
And yet, while a will can cover a lot of ground, it is important to ensure that your will does not overstep its boundaries, as this could lead to problems. To start with, do not address any of the following when crafting a will.
Any assets with designated beneficiaries
Some assets allow you to designate a beneficiary as part of the asset’s paperwork. Doing this will allow the asset to skip the probate process. Instead, the company in charge of the asset will pass it straight to the person you’ve designated upon your passing. Examples can include life insurance, annuities and certain retirement accounts. If you mention an asset with a beneficiary designation in your will, it will only lead to confusion, so don’t. Besides, even if you were to, the designation specified on the asset itself would take priority.
Anything destined for someone who may not be able to manage what they receive
Inheriting via a will is a relatively direct process. A beneficiary who receives an asset in this way is free to do what they like with it. While that is fine for most adults, it’s not OK for everyone. Gambling or drug problems could mean that a sudden influx of money becomes dangerous for someone. Or danger aside, they might just blow what they’ve received right away.
Additionally, adults with special needs may have no idea of money’s worth, leaving them vulnerable to anyone who wishes to steal from them. As for children under 18, they cannot inherit yet. In all these cases, moving assets into a trust that someone can manage on the recipient’s behalf is a safer option.
With appropriate legal guidance, you can learn more about what a will can and cannot do and explore any alternatives you may need to set up in order to preserve the legacy you wish to pass on.