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Here’s What You Should Never Put In Your Will

When it comes to ensuring your assets are adequately protected, and your wishes are honored after you’re gone, having a will is one of the most important steps you can take. But just as important as ensuring you have a will is knowing what should and shouldn’t be included in it. If you make mistakes in the drafting of your choice, it could be considered invalid in a court of law, resulting in your assets being distributed in a way you may not have intended. To ensure that your wishes are honored after your passing, knowing what you should never put in your will is essential.

A will is a legal document that outlines how you’d like your assets to be distributed after death. It allows you to designate beneficiaries and guardians for your minor children and make arrangements for funeral services. It’s also an essential tool for reducing the amount of taxes and administrative costs associated with estate planning.

6 Thing You Shouldn’t Include In Your Will

When drafting a will, there are certain things that you should never include to ensure that it’s legally binding. So let’s consider what should never be put in a will and why. Here are some of the most important things to avoid when drafting a will:

1. Gifts to minors

Including gifts to minors in a will is not allowed because minors are not legally able to accept gifts or enter into contracts. Minors also cannot own property until they reach the age of majority. Therefore, any gifts given to minors in a will would not be legally binding and would be invalid.

2. Specific requests

Specific requests in a will are typically not allowed because they can be challenging to enforce. It may also be impossible to meet the demand due to changing circumstances or unforeseeable events. Lastly, specific requests may be overly complicated or outside of the scope of the will, making them difficult to manage.

3. Incorrect information

You cannot put incorrect information in a will because the information it contains is legally binding. If incorrect information is included, it could lead to complications when the will is being executed. The consequences of putting incorrect information in a will can include a court dispute to determine the validity of the will or a challenge of the will by an heir who feels that the incorrect information has adversely affected their inheritance. It could also lead to delays in the distribution of assets or other complications in the distribution process.

4. Contingencies

Contingencies are conditions or situations that must be met before a bequest in a will can be fulfilled. They provide flexibility to the will so that if a particular event occurs, the endowment can be changed or revoked. For example, a person may leave a legacy to a charity contingent upon the charity’s continued existence.

A will is a binding legal document and must be followed as written. Including contingencies in a will would make it difficult to enforce the document as written because it would require the court to interpret the intention of the will based on the contingencies. For this reason, contingencies are generally not included in a will.

5. Emotional language

Using emotional language in a will is not allowed because it can be interpreted differently by different people, making it difficult to determine the true meaning of the phrases. Additionally, emotional language can be subject to misinterpretation and lead to misunderstandings of the will, leading to disputes and disagreements. This can create a lot of confusion and cause delays in the distribution of the assets. Therefore, it is essential to use only clear, precise language in a will.

6. Certain Assets

Some assets may remain outside of a will for a variety of reasons. For example, an asset such as real estate may be difficult to transfer into the will. Additionally, some assets may have tax consequences that may be more favorable if kept outside a will.

Here are some of them:

  • Intangible Assets: Intangible assets such as intellectual property, goodwill, or trademarks cannot be included in a will because they are not physical property and thus cannot be transferred through a will.
  • Jointly-Held Assets: Assets that are jointly held, such as real estate or bank accounts, cannot be included in a will because the ownership of these assets must pass to the surviving co-owner.
  • Life Insurance Proceeds: Life insurance proceeds cannot be included in a will because the contract between the policyholder and the insurance company determines the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, not by will.
  • Trust or Retirement Accounts: These types of accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, Charitable Remainder Trusts, and other employer-sponsored retirement plans, cannot be included in a will because the account’s beneficiary is determined by the contract between the participant and the program and not by the will. Also, the assets held in a trust aren’t a part of the estate.

Trusts are legally binding documents that are separate from the estate and can be used to protect assets from probate. They also provide a way to manage and transfer assets without going through the court process. This can be beneficial for people who want to keep their assets private and avoid probate court. Trusts can also be used to provide for loved ones who are not alive at the time of the will or to keep assets in the family for generations.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that your will is legally binding and that your wishes are honored after you’re gone.

What To Include In A Will?

Now that we’ve gone over what you should never put in your will, let’s go through some of the most important things to include in a will:

  • Your name, address, and date of birth: This helps ensure that your will is tied to you and can be verified as your document.
  • A list of your assets: This ensures that all of your assets are accounted for.
  • Beneficiaries and guardians: This allows you to identify who you would like to receive your assets and who should be responsible for raising your minor children.
  • Executor: This person is responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will.
  • Signatures: All parties must sign the will to be legally binding.

These are just some essential items to include in your will. Depending on your specific situation, there may be other things that you need to have. For example, if you own a business, you may need instructions on how to handle it.

Can you leave my house to someone in a will?

If you want to leave your house to someone in a will, you must create a legally binding document stating that the house is being transferred to the designated recipient upon your death. This document should be signed by both you and the recipient and notarized by a third party. You may also want to consult with an attorney to ensure that all the legal requirements for transferring property in a will are met.

Can you leave property to a pet in a will?

In the United States, leaving property directly to a pet in a will is impossible. However, it is possible to leave money or property to a pet’s caretaker in a will, to be used for the pet’s care and upkeep.

Next Steps

Having a will is essential to estate planning, but it’s vital to ensure it’s drafted correctly, and you go through the list of what you should never put in your will, to avoid any inconveniences. Ensure to include all the necessary information and avoid mistakes that could invalidate your will in a court of law.

Never put gifts to minors, specific funeral arrangements, incorrect information, contingencies, or emotional language in your will, and ensure that all information is accurate before signing it. By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that your will is legally binding and that your wishes are honored after you’re gone.

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