Your will is an essential component of your estate plan. By communicating your wishes and appointing an executor to carry them out, you can save your loved ones time and stress after you pass away.
It is important to know what to include in your will. However, it is equally important to know what you should not include.
1. Funeral plans
You should consider your funeral and burial or cremation plans in your estate planning, but your will is not the best place to do it. Your family may not even look at your will until after your funeral.
Instead, discuss your preferences with your family in advance. Write down your instructions and give copies to people you trust, such as close family members or your lawyer.
2. Conditional gifts
Conditional gifts are not unusual, but enforcing them is not always practical or possible. For example, you might want to leave your house to your grandchild on the condition that he or she graduates from college. This might require several years of follow-up by your executor. If you must include such a condition, establish a clear time limit to avoid confusion.
Some conditions, such as requiring beneficiaries to marry, divorce or change religions, are not enforceable and should never be part of your will.
3. Funds for a person with special needs
If you are the parent or guardian of someone with a disability, you must consider him or her in your estate plan. However, it is best to accomplish this with a special needs trust. A trust can provide for your loved one’s care without compromising his or her eligibility for government assistance.
When planning your estate, it is important to write a detailed will that covers all of the necessary information while avoiding unnecessary complications.