We talk a lot about what you should include on your will.
What about about what you shouldn’t include? Often times there are things that just don’t belong on a will, either due to beneficiary designation or legal matters. If you’re wondering what you should leave out of your final will and testament, we have the answers.
What not to include on your will:
Life insurance proceeds, Retirement plan proceeds (including IRA, 401k, or pension), stocks and bonds, or payable-on-death bank account proceeds
While all of these proceeds and the funds they carry are important, often times you don’t need to include them in a will. This is because most go here accounts and plans ask you to predetermine a beneficiary for that account. This brings us to why keeping up with beneficiary designation is so important. If the beneficiary of your account is deceased, it can be more complicated to know where those funds ought to go. Likewise, if your designated beneficiary for something like your 401k is an ex-spouse or a deceased person you can run into the same problem. Learn more about keeping up with beneficiary designation on our previous blog.
Joint tenancy property
Join tenancy simply put is a legal term that means that two or more people who own a home together have equal ownership or share in that property. Meaning that if you and three other people own a house together, each person would be entitled to 25% of that property.
In a marriage with joint tenancy, this can look like all assets shifting to the surviving spouse in the other one dies.
If you are engaged in this type of arrangement, you cannot leave ownership of your portion of that property is a will or trust. This is due to the “right of survivorship” which state that if one owner dies, their title is passed “by operation of law” to the other surviving owner(s).
Property detailed in a living trust
Many people use a living trust to avoid probate. Property that is mentioned in a living trust is able to avoid probate, as opposed to property included in a will. If you already have property willed to someone in a trust, there is no reason to list it in your will as well.
When a family member passes, funeral proceedings are often the first things that are arranged. Because of that, your funeral may be planned and executed before anyone even gets the chance to look at your will. Instead of leaving funerary instructions in your will, consider letting loved ones know what you do and don’t want at your funeral. Writing down your wishes and giving them to a trusted personal is the best way to make sure your wishes are carried out on your funeral day.