Wills are one of the most common legal documents that help individuals achieve their estate planning goals. However, a will can’t do it all. Many people have the misconception that a will is the only legal document needed to transfer assets after their death seamlessly, but that isn’t always the case. Our Madison estate planning attorneys break down what a will can and can’t do below.
What a Will Can’t Do
A will is an essential document that everyone should include in their estate plan. However, there is only so much a will can do. Below we have put together a list of things a will can’t help you with.
You Can’t Leave Certain Property
In most cases, you can’t use a will to leave certain types of property. For example, a will won’t be sufficient to pass down property with a joint tenancy or is part of community property. You also can’t use a will to transfer money in a pension plan, proceeds of a life insurance policy for which you've named a beneficiary, and more.
You Can’t Leave Funeral Instructions
In many cases, family members don’t find or even read their loved one’s will until days or weeks after a death. For such reasons, we recommend making a separate document to list out your wishes and funeral instructions.
You Can’t Avoid Probate
Many people believe that a will is the only legal document sufficient to avoid the probate process. Unfortunately, a will doesn’t seamlessly transfer assets to your beneficiaries. The probate process is still required with a will. One of the most common ways to avoid probate is creating a trust.
You Can’t Avoid or Reduce Estate Taxes
A will won’t help you or your beneficiaries reduce estate taxes. However, other legal documents can help you do so (such as a trust).
Not sure which documents you need in your estate plan? Contact our Madison estate planning attorneys today at (608) 292-5185 to schedule a consultation!