What are the Limitations of a Will?
Having a will is the important first step of the estate planning process. Wills ensure that your wishes are known and carried out after you pass away. However, there are certain limitations that restrict what a will can accomplish, including the following:
- Wills cannot bestow certain properties to a beneficiary: Typically, a will cannot be used to pass down shared property, funds in a living trust, proceeds of a life insurance policy and pension or retirement fund benefits. They also cannot bestow property in a transfer-on-death form of payable-on-death bank account.
- Wills are not the place for funeral instructions: The reading of a will typically takes place days or weeks after a person’s death, rendering any funeral instructions in the will useless. If you have specific wishes for your funeral and burial, you should create a separate document outlining your requests.
- Wills cannot avoid probate court: Any details you include in your will must pass through probate court and become part of public record. In other words, any property in your will can only be passed down to loved ones once the probate process is complete.
- Wills may not leave gifts based on contingencies: You may not use your will to bestow gifts based on potential actions, such as a future marriage, divorce, religious conversion or other major life choices. To do this, you’ll need to explore other types of estate planning methods. However, some contingent gifts in a will are OK. For example, you can give a gift to someone provided he or she completed college before your death.
To learn more about how to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death, consult the knowledgeable Tampa estate planning attorneys at BaumannKangas Estate Law.