What to avoid putting in a will

A will is document that allows an individual to stipulate how they want their final wishes carried out when they die. However, there are certain provisions that should never be included in a will.

A will is a legal instrument that details how individuals want their final wishes carried out when they die. It often names beneficiaries of family heirlooms and other property. A will also allows people to stipulate detailed instructions regarding the care of minor children.

Although each jurisdiction varies, the law mandates a traditional will meet specific requirements before it is deemed valid. Generally, the grantor (person creating the will) must have "sound mind" or capacity to create the document. Additionally, the grantor and two witnesses (not named as beneficiaries in the will) must also sign the will before it's legally binding.

However, there are certain provisions that cannot be stipulated in a will.

Provisions relating to joint tenancy property

Under the law, property already held in joint tenancy with another person automatically passes to the joint surviving tenant. As a result, this type of property cannot be bestowed to a different beneficiary in a will.

Life insurance, retirement plans

Both life insurance policies and retirement plans already list a beneficiary within the contract. A will cannot supersede the beneficiary listed in either and designate a different beneficiary.

Assets in a trust

In a trust, an individual sets aside assets or property separate from the will. A beneficiary of the property is named as well as an executor. A will cannot supersede established beneficiaries in a trust since the trust already lists the beneficiaries. New trust documents must be created if a grantor wishes to change the beneficiary named in the trust.

Provisions for pets

Under the law, pets cannot own property. So, individuals cannot leave assets or money directly to their pets in a will. Pet owners who wish to provide for their pets in their estate should consider a pet trust. In a pet trust, pet owners can set aside money for the care and maintenance of their pets and designate an individual or organization that will handle the stipulations set forth in the trust document.

The help of an estate planning lawyer

The above listed situations are just a handful of examples that individuals should contemplate when drafting a will. Because every person's situation is different, there are many different considerations that should be addressed.

If you are thinking about creating a will, seeking the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer is the first step. An attorney knowledgeable in this area of laws will know the intricate areas and offer guidance on your individual circumstances.

Keywords: will, provisions, limitations