A will is arguably the most important document in your estate plan. It instructs the executor about how to distribute your property and allows you to name a guardian for your children in case something happens to you.
Wills can include information about specific assets and family relationships as a way to help guide the property distribution process. Some people go too far and include information or assets in their wills that can complicate estate administration later.
What should you avoid including in your will?
Property you moved into a trust
Many people add a trust to their estate plan because it offers more protection than a simple will. It is crucial that you remove instructions from your will regarding assets that you have since transferred into the trust.
Otherwise, the conflicting instructions you leave could lead to challenges in probate court and increase how much estate administration costs.
Complex requirements for inheritance
Some people expect their beneficiaries to engage in certain behaviors to inherit property or want to limit how people use inherited assets. If that scenario applies to your family, then a will probably isn’t the right place to discuss those issues.
Those special requests and requirements may not be enforceable in court. They could also give someone reason to challenge and potentially invalidate your estate plan.
Property that you have arranged to transfer at the time of your death
Whether you have a sizable life insurance policy that your spouse will share with your children or you own a home that will transfer to your sibling who lives with you at the time of your death, those assets don’t belong in your will.
They can complicate estate administration just like trust property. Generally speaking, your will does not have more authority than the transfer on death designation you created or the beneficiary designations for insurance policies.
There is one thing you may need to ensure you include in your estate plan. If you intend to disinherit a member of your family, just one of your children or grandchildren, it is crucial that you mention those intentions specifically in writing. Otherwise, the person you intended to disinherit could challenge the estate plan on the grounds that you forgot them by accident.
Learning more about what you can’t include and should include in your will can help you create an estate plan that protects you and the people you love.