3 Things Your Will Does NOT Accomplish

A Last Will and Testament are one of the most critical documents you will ever have to draft. So critical, in fact, that it has been the subject of many nasty legal battles since the establishment of the judicial system. Among other things, a Will dictates the final wishes of the deceased regarding the property he/she leaves behind upon death. Unfortunately, there are certain expectations about the Last Will and Testament that most people believe to be true but are actually false. Take a look at these 3 things that your Will does NOT accomplish.  

  1. Control Certain Types of Property

Generally, you cannot include the following property in your Will:

  • Any Trusts, insurance policies, or retirement plans that clearly show a beneficiary
  • Any property that is held in joint tenancy or with the right of survivorship (i.e. has two equal owners). This kind of property will pass automatically to the other owner upon your death, regardless of what you put in your Will.
  • Stocks or bonds that already have a specified beneficiary, and will transfer to that party upon death
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts: The beneficiary listed in a pay-on-death bank account receives any money left upon death. However, it can name an executor who will be in charge of collecting and distributing the funds during the probate process.
  1. Provide Funeral Instructions

This is more of a SHOULD NOT scenario than a CANNOT one, as it is technically not illegal to put your burial plans in a Will. However, your body is not considered “property” when it comes to estate planning and, therefore, putting your funeral instructions in your Will may not go according to your plans. Even more, the estate and probate proceedings do not usually happen until after the funeral, meaning that it will already be too late when your funeral wishes are discovered. There are other ways you can do this, though, including:

  • Talking to your loved ones: let them know your burial plans beforehand, so they know what to do
  • Creating a “Final Arrangements” document: You can put everything you want concerning your funeral arrangements in a “Final Arrangements” document, including whether to bury or cremate, burial location, casket choice, cemetery marker, etc.
  1. Avoid Probate

Generally, probate is a must for property that was:

  • Owned solely by the deceased person – e.g. real estate or a house titled in that individual’s name only
  • A share of property held as “tenants in common” – e.g. a business investment with a brother or other people

This property is referred to as the probate estate. However, there are many types of assets that do not have to go through the probate process when transferring ownership. Typically, transferring assets without probate can save a lot of time and money, and help the beneficiaries avoid several years of legal hassle. You can avoid the probate system by passing on your property as: 

  • Gifts
  • Joint Property
  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Death Beneficiaries

The importance of consulting an experienced estate planning lawyer when drafting a Will cannot be overemphasized. The Amsberry Law Firm has a team of highly trained professionals who can help you pass on your property in a smooth and seamless process, without all the legal hassle. Call us today at (210) 354-2244.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.

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