A will may not be enough for your estate
If you are preparing your estate plan, you want it to be as complete and thorough as possible. Perhaps you have heard that mistakes and omissions in an estate plan can result in confusion and conflict during probate, and you want to be certain to minimize the chances of these issues for your loved ones.
Nevertheless, you want to be cautious about what you include in your will. While a will is an effective tool for transferring your assets during probate, it is not the appropriate place to deal with certain items and issues. It is important to understand what these issues are and how best to handle them in your estate plan.
Using your will correctly
After someone dies, family and friends may gather to plan a funeral or memorial service. This may happen relatively quickly after the person’s passing, and it may be days or weeks before loved ones have the presence of mind to look for a will. Therefore, using your will to leave instructions for your funeral arrangements is not prudent. These details you may wish to discuss with your loved ones or outline in a separate document to give your estate executor before your death.
You may jeopardize the validity of your will if you place illegal conditions or purposes on your bequests. Additionally, assets left in a will are still subject to estate taxes, and they must still go through the probate process. To avoid these concerns, you may want to consider a trust.
What to leave out
Estate planning professionals also recommend not including the following in your will:
- Anything you have funded to a trust
- Property that you own jointly with someone else
- Benefits from life insurance, retirement plans, pensions, stocks or other investments that already have beneficiary designations
- Funds from an account with a payable-on-death designation
- Funds and instructions intended for someone with special needs
- Funds and instructions for pet care or gifts designated for your pet
- Bequests for minor children
While this may seem like a lot to leave out of your will, there is still great value in drafting a solid, valid will according to Florida law. Dying without a will in place is called dying intestate, and this is a source of confusion and disputes for many families. Instead, your will can answer questions about your personal property and provide your loved ones with clear directions for your wishes.