What not to include in a will

Posted by iLawyer on Dec 19th, 2019 Firm News, Probate

The prevailing wisdom when drafting estate planning documents is to be as thorough as possible. Those drafting the will should have a comprehensive list of assets, clear directions for how to disperse them and how to handle other relevant matters.

Nevertheless, there are certain assets and arrangements you should not include as part of your will. Recognizing those that do and do not go into the will can speed up the probate process and lead to less confusion among surviving family members and other beneficiaries.

7 provisions you should leave out

Some of these will make sense, while others seem counterintuitive:

  1. Funeral plans: The will can handle payment, but arrangements should be given to the executor ahead of time.
  2. Retirement funds and life insurance policies: These already require you to designate a beneficiary.
  3. Jointly held property: An essential element of joint tenancy is the right to survivorship. Once you die, that property automatically goes to the surviving co-owners.
  4. Digital property: This is an evolving issue, but digital bequests are hard to enforce. It’s better to provide a list with accompanying passwords.
  5. Illegal gifts or requests: Giving ill-got gains is unlawful, as is asking survivors to break the law (examples include burning down a home or an illicit burial site).
  6. Placing unlawful conditions upon gifts: Probate court tries to honor your wishes, but you can’t put discriminatory or illegal terms in a will, such as converting to a specific religion or marry a spouse of the opposite sex.
  7. Care of a disabled child or spouse: A special needs trust is a better approach to handle these types of arrangements.

Addressing your unique requests

An experienced estate law attorney working here in Texas can help you create a will and address any standard or special provisions. Their skill in these matters makes the process easier for those creating a will, and beneficiaries will have a better understanding of your final wishes.