Can You Do Anything You Want With Your Will?

Law Blog

A common misconception about wills is that you can do anything you want to with them. However, there are limitations to what the document can do, and not knowing this could mean the executor of your estate will have to go to court to determine what happens with some or all of your estate. To help you understand the limitations of your will, here is what you need to know.

What Can You Not Do with Your Will?

A mistake that people sometimes make with their wills is attempting to leave property that is considered joint tenancy to someone else. For instance, if you and your spouse own your home, attempting to leave it to a friend is a no-no. The law requires that a joint tenancy become the property of the survivor in the partnership. In this instance, your spouse would gain complete ownership.

You also cannot name someone to inherit your life insurance in your will if you already have a designated beneficiary on the policy. In this instance, the beneficiary would receive the payout. If you want someone else to receive it, you will need to update your beneficiary with your insurance provider.

In addition to these things, you cannot use the will to attempt to avoid probate. The will has to be filed with the court by your executor. Depending on the court's docket, it could be weeks or even months before the executor can start to distribute the assets to your heirs.

Are There Other Documents You Can Use?

Due to the limitations of the will, many people turn to other ways to legally handle the tasks they want to be completed upon their death. For instance, if you want to avoid probate, you could use a living trust to do it. Your assets would go into the trust before your death. After your death, the assets could be distributed to your heirs without the need for probate court.

If you want to leave someone a property that is considered joint tenancy, there are several ways you could accomplish this. One scenario is to buy out the ownership of the other person or change the agreement to a tenant in common arrangement. With a tenant in common agreement, your share of the property would transfer to the person you choose.

Your estate planning attorney can further explain the limitations of a will and help you find ways to deal with those restrictions. To learn more, contact a law firm like Ritter & LeClere APC Attorneys At Law


24 October 2017

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.