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Torrance Estate Planning & Probate > Blog > Wills > Things You Should Not Put In Your Will

Things You Should Not Put In Your Will


When it comes to drafting a will, many people are concerned that they put everything in the will that needs to be there. They don’t want to overlook anything, and that’s a good strategy. But an equally good strategy is the opposite–making sure there’s nothing in your will that shouldn’t be there.

Yes, being too inclusive can cause harm just as leaving stuff out can cause harm. There are certain things that, as a general rule, you don’t want in your will. Most of these items have to do with duplication–that is, the inherent conflict between estate document 1 saying one thing and document 1 saying something else.

What should you not put in your will? Here are a few things to avoid:

  1. Anything you put in a trust – On the theme of avoiding duplication, and thus, creating the possibility of a conflict or ambiguity, you generally don’t want anything in your will that you have already accounted for, or put into, a trust.

Property put in trusts avoid probate. Items put in a will, do not. You therefore will negate this advantage, by putting something in a trust in your will as well.

  1. Any Property in a POD Account – Some accounts are payable on death–meaning, there is a named beneficiary for the given property, in an account set up at a financial institution. Like a trust, this property transfers without probate–an advantage you could negate by including the same property in your will
  2. Conditional or timed payouts – Wills are not good vehicles for conditions. Wills  generally say that on your death, this person will get that property, unconditionally and immediately. If you want to add an “if” to that condition, or a “when” (for example “if Joe takes care of my dog,” or “when Jennifer graduates college”), these are best left in a trust, where there is a trustee administering the trust, and ensuring that the stated conditions are met.
  3. Business interests – Wills are public documents, subject to a public probate process. Do you really want your business information in the public records? Worse, if there is a challenge to your estate, other vital information about you, your business and its finances, could be aired out in a public court.

Additionally, business issues can be complex and time consuming. These can hold up administration of your estate for years, if business partners and family are fighting over who gets what part of your business.

  1. Government benefits are involved – If you have any people inheriting property that rely upon government benefits, you may need a more complex vehicle than a will. Simply leaving a lot of money to a relative on your death, can jeopardize that person’s need-based government benefits.

As a reminder, these are things that shouldn’t be put in a will–they should absolutely all be included in other estate planning documents. Knowing what property is best for what kind of estate document is a key part of estate planning and one your estate planning attorney can help you with.

Find an asset protection strategy that works for you. Call the Torrance will attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today.

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