Drafting a will and what not to include in it

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2021 | Wills |

Establishing an estate plan is often thought of as something one does later in life, when one has entered retirement. However, this is now considered to be getting late to the game, as there are many benefits to creating an estate plan during one’s younger years. The best way an individual in Arizona and elsewhere can protect their present and future wealth and property is to create an estate plan now. Nonetheless, an estate plan, specifically a will, should not include everything.

What to not include in a will

While it might seem appropriate to address everything in a will, doing so could actually cause more harm than good. For example, property that is listed in a trust should not be listed in a will. Doing so creates inconsistencies and could result in the wrong party receiving the property, as the property will be subjected to the trust’s rules.

Next, assets with named beneficiaries should not be included in a will. This is most commonly bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, pension plans and life insurance policies. Third, jointly owned property should not be listed in a will. Almost always this property will directly pass to the co-owner. Finally, funeral instructions should not be listed in a will. This information may not be useful in a will, as it may not be read prior to arrangements being made. Thus, this information should be communicated with one’s executor ahead of time.

The benefits of a will

A properly drafted will holds many benefits. For starters, it can specifically name the individual who will receive what property or assets. It is a straightforward way to memorialize in writing who will get what after you die. While listing items in a will is beneficial, it can also be beneficial to leave certain items out of the will, as it will help one’s heirs receive their inheritances faster. Probate takes time, and if a will is contested, this can add more time to it. Thus, placing certain property in a trust could help one ensure property is timely received by the named party. Additionally, it could also help enforce any conditions one seeks to attach to it, such as only using the funds for education or only receiving property after one completes college.

An estate plan often has many working parts; thus, one needs to be aware of the documents it could contain and how each of these documents could provide certain benefits to them. This could help establish which documents to include and what they should contain.