You Should Know the Limitations of Your Will
A will is a simple and effect method of handling many of your estate planning needs. However, it should not be looked at as a one-size-fits-all tool that will address all your needs.
Here are a few examples of some of the limitations of wills that you should be aware of when planning your estate:
- Property limitations: There are certain types of property you cannot leave behind in a will. These include property held in joint tenancy with another person, any property already transferred to a trust, life insurance proceeds, money in retirement plans with named beneficiaries, transfer-on-death benefits and certain types of stocks and bonds.
- Funeral instructions: Wills are usually not read until days or weeks after the person’s death. If you wish to leave behind instructions about your funeral you should create a separate document and inform your personal representative or family members where that document can be found.
- Probate avoidance: Wills must go through probate court, which could tie them up for several months or longer before assets can be distributed.
- Conditional gifts: You cannot leave gifts that are contingent on certain issues, such as religion, divorce or marriage. You can, however, leave some conditional gifts based on educational decisions.
- Estate taxes: Wills cannot be used to reduce estate tax liability. To accomplish that you must use a trust.
- Special needs care: If you wish to set a beneficiary with special needs up for long-term care, you will need to use a special needs trust rather than your will.
For more information about what wills can and cannot do, contact an experienced Tampa, FL estate planning lawyer at BaumannKangas Estate Law.