Many people understand the necessity of drawing up a will, but too many people do not understand the limitations of this legal document. There are at least eight things that a will cannot do, as an estate planning lawyer in Lafayette, LA, such as from Theus Law Offices, can explain.
- Provide Funeral Instructions
You never want to use a will to provide funeral instructions. In most cases, a decedent’s will is not discovered for days or even weeks after death, which means any instructions are void. There are better options for making funeral arrangements, like creating a separate document with instructions for your executor.
- Leave All Types of Property
A will is not a vehicle for the disbursement of all types of property. For example, you cannot, in most states, leave community property to a beneficiary. To understand the full list of property types, consult with an estate planning attorney.
- Avoid Probate
Despite popular belief, property left to someone through a will does not avoid the probate process. In fact, the property can remain in probate for nearly a year beyond death, depending on the circumstances.
- Avoid Taxes
People also wrongly assume that a will can help to reduce or limit estate taxes through the distribution of assets. If you want to avoid or postpone tax liability, then you want to look into alternative financial vehicles, like a trust.
- Leave Conditionalized Gifts
If you wish to leave conditional gifts, then there are other methods much better than a will. A will cannot legally enforce conditions like marriage, divorce or change of religion. However, leaving many to someone when they go to college is actionable, but someone needs to enforce the conditions, which is not always likely.
- Arrange Long-Term Care
If you have a loved one with special needs, then leaving instructions or arranging for long-term care is not suitable for a will. A better vehicle is a trust, which allows you to provide specific instructions and enable people to enforce them.
- Provide Property for Pets
A pet cannot be a property holder. Therefore, there is no reason to try to leave assets to your beloved canine or feline. Instead, leave guardianship to someone and provide money for the animal’s care. It is possible to set up a trust with conditions for the care of the animal.
- Leave Money for Illegal Activities
While it is uncommon, you cannot leave money for illegal activities or set conditions for such activities. For example, you cannot make the terms of inheritance that a minor start smoking.
A will is a crucial legal document that enables you to make your final wishes known, but it does have its limitations. If you want to learn more, then contact an estate attorney.