Estate planning might seem like walking through a maze. It’s all about making big decisions for your family’s future and guarding the wealth you have built over the years. Luckily, with guidance from Your Legacy Legal Care, you won’t have to walk this path alone.
A key part of estate planning is creating a will. This document tells everyone how you want your assets shared after you are gone. A will is pivotal in ensuring your wishes are honored. But it’s not a catch-all solution. There are specific items and details that, for various reasons, you should NEVER put in your will.
When crafting a will, it’s as important to understand what to exclude as it is to know what to include. Below are eight pivotal elements that, while they might seem pertinent, should not find a place within your will:
It might seem intuitive to detail your funeral arrangements in your will, envisioning it as a final wish. However, often, wills are not examined until after the funeral has occurred. Instead of risking your desires being overlooked, it is prudent to relay your funeral wishes directly to trusted friends or family. Alternatively, document them in a separate, easily accessible place to ensure they are respected and followed. For example, our team provides a Memorial Instructions document to note your wishes regarding your funeral arrangements.
Assets owned in joint accounts usually possess a right of survivorship. This means they automatically pass on to the surviving joint owner upon one’s passing. Including such assets in your will can muddle the process, as these assets are already legally earmarked to transition to the co-owner.
Certain assets, including life insurance payouts, retirement accounts, and payable-on-death accounts, come with pre-determined beneficiary designations. Even if your will suggests otherwise, the previously chosen beneficiary will be the lawful recipient. To prevent future conflicts and ensure alignment with your current wishes, regularly review and update your beneficiary designations, especially after significant life events.
Including provisions that border on the illegal or that contravene public policy can jeopardize your will’s validity. This does not merely extend to requests that are overtly illegal but also to ones that may inadvertently go against established norms or policies.
Incorporating fleeting obligations or short-term loans can lead to constant revisions and potential disputes. Keeping the content of your will consistent with long-lasting intentions ensures its resilience and relevance over time.
A will, while deeply personal, is a legal document. Including emotional explanations or justifications for your choices might seem cathartic, but it can sow discord among beneficiaries. Beyond potential hurt, such inclusions can be grounds for contesting the will. Aim for clarity and objectivity to maintain harmony and uphold the will’s primary purpose.
Assets in a living trust are designated to bypass the probate process, making their distribution more efficient. Mentioning these assets in your will can create confusion since they are already set to be managed by the trust’s terms. To avoid legal ambiguities and potential disputes, keep trust-held assets separate from your will’s directives.
While your will addresses significant assets, detailing every minor possession can over complicate matters. As possessions evolve, frequent will updates become cumbersome. Instead, use a separate memorandum, referenced in your will, to manage the distribution of cherished personal items without cluttering the main document.
By understanding and avoiding these pitfalls, you can craft a will that’s both robust and reflective of your genuine intentions, ensuring peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
At Your Legacy Legal Care, we understand that estate planning requires meticulous attention to detail. From drafting wills to creating advance health care directives, we are committed to ensuring that your wishes are honored and your assets protected. Our experienced team has successfully guided countless individuals in Houston through the estate planning process, helping them prepare for potential future incapacities, retirement, and ensuring the well-being of their families.
Moreover, our spectrum of services goes beyond just drafting wills. Whether you are seeking to develop and implement strategic asset protection, establish a special needs trust, or engage in business succession planning and long-term care planning, our team is adept at tailoring solutions that cater to your unique needs.
In the realm of estate planning, knowledge is power. The decision of what you should and should not include in your will is paramount to ensuring that your legacy is preserved in the way you envision. With Your Legacy Legal Care, you have the assurance of working with honest, compassionate, and informed professionals who are dedicated to safeguarding your future and the future of your loved ones.
Reach out to one of our offices in the Houston area and begin your journey of ensuring a legacy of care, protection, and love for your family.
The process of creating a will is a significant step in securing your legacy. By understanding what to include and what to omit, you can ensure your wishes are met without complications. Engaging with an experienced will lawyer can ensure you navigate these intricacies with precision. At Your Legacy Legal Care, we are here to provide the guidance and expertise you need every step of the way. Secure your legacy with us by contacting us today.
Kimberly Hegwood is the Managing Attorney of Your Legacy Legal Care, a Houston estate planning law firm. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law in Texas, she represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including elder law, asset protection, estate planning, Medicaid crisis planning, probate, guardianship, and other estate planning practice areas.
Kimberly received her Juris Doctor from the South Texas College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
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