Some people view wills as a catch-all for any estate-related inclusions, but there are better ways to address some issues than the last will and testament. Read on to learn about some estate-related ideas that might be better served using other methods.
It may surprise some that a bequest should be free of conditions. After all, you might want to have your nephew go to college, but you want to ensure that he actually makes good grades while there if you're going to be leaving him money to further his education. Unfortunately, some bequests with conditions can put the will at risk and may leave it unenforceable by the probate court. Speak with an estate planning law firm to make sure that any conditions are entirely legal and enforceable before you make them, and consider leaving money that requires conditions in a trust instead of will.
In the past people always included their burial, funeral, or memorial wishes in their wills, but this may not be the best place for these important plans. Wills can be read later on after the funeral and burial have taken place, but you might need to let your loved ones know your wishes before the will is located and read. For example, if your will is located in a safe deposit box at the bank, you will have to count on the bank being open before plans need to be made.
As an alternative, consider placing these arrangements in an easier-to-access location and provide your family with copies of the plans ahead of time. It's never too early to make these plans, and doing so will ensure that your final wishes are known and complied with. As an additional note, making your own arrangements directly with the funeral home, known as "pre-planning", will take a great deal of the burden from your loved one's shoulders.
Arrangements for Pets
You may be tempted to leave your pet dog Fluffy a sum of money to help ensure his continuing care, but that would be a mistake. Pets are considered by the probate court to be property and you should not put your will in jeopardy by attempting to leave property to property.
Consider instead leaving Fluffy to a trusted (and informed) loved one and setting aside a sum of money for that person if you wish to do so. Also consider creating a pet trust, which can go even further in addressing the needs of your beloved pets after your death.
Speak to an estate attorney to learn more.