Wills are the foundational component of most estate plans; if you have started the estate planning process, chances are, you will begin this process by creating a will.
Wills can be a valuable tool for ensuring your assets get distributed according to your wishes following your death. However, there are several pieces of information you should avoid including in your will:
- Funeral instructions — Although you can express your burial or funeral preferences in your will, it is usually better to let your loved one know these desires separately or as part of your advance healthcare directive. In most cases, wills are read after the funeral, so including instructions for this event may not be practical.
- Conditional gifts — Avoid including gifts in your will that are conditional upon the recipient doing something specific. In most cases, the court will not enforce these conditions.
- Assets with a named beneficiary — Your bank accounts, real estate, and retirement accounts likely already have named beneficiaries attached to them. For this reason, you do not need to list them in your will.
- Assets in trusts — Any assets held in a trust are governed by the terms of the trust, not by your will. Because of this, you do not need to create a will to distribute assets held in a trust.
- Distributions to pets — Although you can express wishes for the care of your pets in your will, you cannot leave assets to your pets directly in this document. This is because animals are not considered legally capable of owning any property, despite what pop culture would have us believe.