A will is a necessary aspect of estate planning. However, a will cannot do some things. When you own certain types of property or have special issues to consider, there are other methods of transfer and instruction that will have to occur and other documents you may need to include in your estate plan.
Your will not cover:
- Joint tenancy
- Property in a living trust
- Life insurance with a named beneficiary
- Pension plans, IRAs, 401(K)s and other retirement accounts for which a beneficiary has been named
- Stocks and bonds with a Transfer-On-Death beneficiary named
- Money held in a payable-on-death bank account
If you hold any such property, those named as the beneficiary will automatically receive the property at your death. If you want to change the beneficiary, you will need to make new provisions trough the administrator of each account. In the case of joint tenancy, your share of the property automatically goes to the surviving co-owner unless they happen to die simultaneously.
Your will offers provisions for the disposition of personal property and assets, but it cannot cover special issue plans. In certain cases, you will need to create a trust or prepare other documents to ensure you or final wishes are carried out.
Here are a few issues that may come up and the contingencies you will want to consider.
- Your will cannot specify your funeral plans. Be sure to leave any such instructions for your loved ones.
- Your will cannot reduce your estate taxes. If you anticipate a high tax liability for your heirs, take steps t begin reducing this liability before the inevitable occurs.
- You can place conditions on gifts in your will. However, the law limits how you can do this. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you with any such provisions.
- Also, be sure to speak with your attorney about avoiding probate and making arrangements for the care of dependents with special needs and for pets.
- In addition, you should note that your will cannot legally provide money for an illegal cause.