Tennessee residents who are thinking about creating a will are on the right track for getting important affairs in order. You and many others may want to take the time to truly mull over what you want to include in your will and how you could use it to the benefit of your surviving loved ones and your estate when the time comes to put it into effect.
A will is a great starting point for any estate plan and can help address important details that other estate planning documents cannot. However, you may want to avoid using it as a catch-all for your end-of-life wishes. After all, your family may not review the document until they have had time to address funeral matters and cope with their grief. As a result, including matters that will need immediate attention may not help.
What should you avoid including in your will?
The dos and don’ts of creating a will differ from person to person and can depend greatly on their personal preferences for estate planning. However, certain don’ts could apply to most people and estates including the following:
- Avoid leaving your funeral wishes in the will as most wills are not read until after the funeral takes place.
- Avoid including property in your will that you own with another person or that you have included in a trust.
- Avoid including life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other accounts that have payable-on-death beneficiary designation as these will pass directly to the person you named as the beneficiary.
- Avoid leaving instructions or stipulations for inheritances that could be considered illegal.
- Avoid putting care instructions for a special needs loved one in your will.
If you need to include any of the aforementioned matters in your estate plan – aside from any illegal stipulations – other planning documents may be of use to you. For example, a special needs trust could help provide care and financial assistance for a special needs loved one, and creating a separate document explaining your funeral wishes that you give to your executor ahead of time could prove useful.
Exploring your options
Starting with a will could act as a jumping off point for a comprehensive estate plan that allows you to address many important matters. If you believe that your will cannot cover all of the information you may want to provide for your family, gaining information on other planning options may be beneficial. Fortunately, numerous planning tools exist that could allow you to create a plan to suit your specific needs.