What a Will Doesn’t Do

A will is an important document for end-of-life decisions, but it isn’t for every situation. Understand what a will won’t do, so you can plan accordingly for your beneficiaries.

Tell Your Family Your Funeral Plans

A will is good for estate planning, but it may be weeks after your death before your will is processed through the probate court. If you want to pre-plan your funeral, work with the funeral home and leave separate instructions for the family.

Help You Avoid Probate

Probate court is the place where your will is validated. If you have a will, it will go through probate as part of the process. Your will does let you name an executor, or administrator, which can help make the process smoother for your family. If you are unable to avoid probate, then consider contacting a probate lawyer.

Avoid Estate Taxes

Property that passes through a will is still subject to estate taxes, both federal and state where it applies. Your beneficiaries will have to pay estate taxes on their inheritance. However, you can work with an estate planning attorney to reduce estate taxes and find ways to limit what is due to the government.

Provide for a Family Member With Special Needs

A will lets you leave money or other assets to anyone, but if you want to provide for a person with special needs, you should discuss this with an estate planning attorney. You may want to create a trust for the person’s care so that their government benefits aren’t impacted by your generosity.

Leave Money to Your Pet

Legally, pets are property. Although you see this on television and in movies, you cannot leave money to a piece of property, i.e., your pets. You can leave money to someone who will take care of your pets. You can set up a pet protection trust to care for your pet. You will have to leave the animal to the person you name.

A Will Is Valuable

Although a will doesn’t handle all your estate planning needs, it still is a good idea to have one to protect your family and to divide up your property according to your wishes. Talk to an estate planning lawyer about your concerns and needs to make sure your estate is handled according to your needs. Don’t think you don’t need a will. Just make sure your will does what you want it to do.