Estate Planning Basics: Understanding What a Will Can and Cannot Do

A Last Will and Testament, or just a Will for short, is the most widely known estate planning document. It is also the most basic option that virtually every adult should have in place. In some cases, a Will is all that is going to be needed, but in others, it will be necessary to have other tools like Trusts to accomplish your goals. Whether you already have a Will or not, it is good to understand what a Will can and cannot do.

Important Things a Will Can do For You

A Will is a great tool that can help you to accomplish a lot of important goals. The following are some of the most important things that a Will can be used for when it comes to estate planning:

  • Distribute Property – You can specify who you want to inherit your property.
  • Plan for Dependents – In a Will you can specify who you want to care for your children after you pass away.
  • Executor – You can name an executor of your estate in a Will so you know you can trust the person making decisions on what will happen to your assets.
  • Disinherit Someone – If you have a loved one who would normally receive some type of inheritance, you can specifically exclude them in a Will.

What a Will Cannot Accomplish

While a Will is very important, there are many things that it simply isn’t designed to handle. Attempting to take care of these types of things with a Will can cause delays, and even make it so your wishes aren’t legally enforceable.

  • Avoid Probate – All Wills have to go through the probate courts, which can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Ensure  Privacy – Since the Will has to go through probate, it will become a matter of public record.
  • Funeral Plans – A Will can be used to make certain things that you want for your funeral known. The problem, however, is that Wills often aren’t found or looked at until weeks after someone’s death. Your wishes for your funeral should be made known to your loved ones.
  • Give to Charity – It is technically possible to leave certain assets to a charity in a Will, but a legal trust will give you much more control over where your assets go and how they are used after you’re gone.

Talk with an Attorney Today

The best way to ensure all the assets that you have worked hard to earn over the course of your life are distributed according to your wishes is to talk with an estate planning attorney. We will be able to look at your unique situation and provide advice on how to accomplish your goals. Please contact us to schedule a consultation today.

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