Most people understand that having a will is important. But when asked why they don’t have a will, 16% of survey participants said wills are too complicated to deal with. That’s why having sound legal advice is key. If you aren’t sure what to include in your will, your estate planning attorney can be a valuable asset. They’ll also be able to confirm that you shouldn’tinclude the following in your will.
- Proceeds from your retirement plan
This is simply a matter of redundancy. Pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement plans already include a spot for you to indicate your beneficiary. Therefore, you don’t need to (and should not) include this information again in your will. This money will be passed on to your beneficiary automatically.
- Property in a living trust
If you want to avoid probate (the court-supervised process of authenticating a will), setting up a living trust is a good way to do it. You can absolutely include property in this living trust. But you should not include that property a second time in your will. Doing so will create inconsistencies and will likely need to be sorted out in a way you wanted to avoid in the first place. If you want to change your trustee, do so through your living trust documents, rather than making amendments in your will.
- Joint tenancy property
A joint tenancy property agreement refers to a type of ownership that is equally shared between two or more parties. This means that each individual has an equal share in the property and therefore maintains equal responsibilities. This can also apply to rental properties. When one of the owners dies, their share of the property passes on to the surviving tenant(s). Regardless of what you state in your will, it won’t matter one bit. Your will won’t ever override the law on these types of properties, so you might as well not include it at all.
Ultimately, putting together a will and testament, or any type of important and binding document, can be extremely complex. It’s imperative that you have legal advice during the entire process. If you have additional questions about creating a will or about estate planning in general, contact a legal representative in your area.