To Will or Not to Will?

To Will or Not to Will?

The one misconception about wills is that they don’t have to go through probate. Wills do still have to go through the probate process, but having a will definitely expedite the process. It ensures that loved ones, lawyers, and the probate court don’t have to divide your property for you. You already have that established and the court will follow your wishes. There are things you definitely have to watch out for when it comes to what does and doesn’t go into a will.

What can’t be included

The following have an automatic or already established beneficiary. There’s no need to add these to your will:

  • Life insurance proceeds that already have a beneficiary
  • Property that’s already in a living trust
  • Joint tenant property
  • Retirement plan proceeds
  • Stocks and bonds held in beneficiary
  • Proceeds from a payable-on-death bank account

What to avoid including

So what happens when you want to leave your old DVD collection to your cat? Well…you can’t. Pets don’t have the legal capacity to own property. However, you can leave your cat in the care of someone you trust. You can then leave property or money (or your DVD collection) to that person to help take care of your little kitty.

Also, be careful about putting conditions on gifts. You can’t make someone change their religion to get your comic book collection, or get married or divorced to get your china set. It’s either something you leave to them, or not. Avoid making things more complicated than they have to be. This can slow down the process.

One thing many people try to leave in their will is funeral instructions or requests. Usually, all the work that goes into the probate proceedings happens after the funeral. Just talk to your loved ones now about your funeral instructions. You can even make a separate document that spells out your wishes for the funeral and give this document to the executor or executrix of your estate.

It can be confusing

We know trying to figure out all the property and assets that need to go in a will can be overwhelming. It’s better to do it right the first time so that you don’t have to make changes or rewrite the entire will later.

Simple will packages are not as expensive as you might think. Simple estate plans for an individual start at just $399, and $699 for a married couple. Call Abbott Law Office at (806)350-HOPE (4673) for a free video consult.


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