Many people put off estate planning, thinking that they are too young to think about such things. But whether you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s, it is never too early to consider what to put in your last will and testament. It is important to consider how you want your property and assets to be dealt with and what heirs will receive them.
In addition to considering what you want to put in your will, it is important to have a full understanding of what can be put in a will. That also means being aware of items that cannot be included in a will.
Because specific rules govern certain types of property, these rules are independent of what a will designates. For example, joint tenancy property by law automatically grants the rights of survivorship to the joint tenant. Thus, when a person dies, his or her share in the property goes directly to the surviving joint tenant. This is true regardless of what a will says.
Another example is property that is included in a living trust. Because designating property in a will that is already delegated in a trust is inconsistent, the living trust will overrule the designation of the will. Thus, the property included in the living trust will automatically go to the beneficiaries and the trustee will manage this process.
Other items or property that cannot be included in a will include life insurance proceeds that already have a beneficiary, retirement plan proceeds, stocks and bonds held in beneficiary and proceeds from a payable-on-death bank account. The basis for not being able to include these items in a will is the fact that they already have a designated beneficiary. This would result in inconsistencies and would likely cause problems at the time of your death.
There are countless factors to consider when you are drafting a will and the property included in it is only a part of it. It is important that individuals are aware of the steps it takes to draft a valid will. Speaking with an attorney that is versed in estate planning could help individuals navigate the process, helping them meet their needs and protect their rights.