Creating a last will and testament provides most of us with a fairly simple, straightforward and relatively cost-efficient way to leave our affairs in order for our loved ones when we die. However, there are some things that don’t belong in a will. Here are some examples from legal experts.
Although putting conditions in wills makes for intrigue in movies and books, doing so in real life is not generally a good idea—and in many cases is illegal. As NOLO explains:
There are also a few legal limitations on what you can do in a will. For example, you cannot leave a gift that is contingent on the marriage, divorce, or change of religion of a recipient. You can, however, try to influence lesser matters. For example, you could leave money “to Jeremy, if and when he goes to college.” Making such conditional gifts, however, usually opens a can of worms—who will enforce the will’s conditions, and for how long?
Generally, it’s best to trust our loved ones to do what is right related to the assets we leave them. Of course there are circumstances, often related to age and ability, that are legitimately fraught with concern about how a loved one will care for themselves without us. In these instances, a trust, such as a special needs trust, is advisable. Legal experts offer this counsel:
If you want to provide long-term care for someone, a will isn’t the place. Far better to set up a trust that’s tailored to the beneficiary’s needs. A special needs trust can provide extra income for a loved one with disabilities, without jeopardizing government benefits.
Considering Trusts and Trustee Bonds
Establishing a trust can also be a helpful way to ensure your own needs are attended to before you die. If you choose to work with your lawyer on a trust, you will designate a trustee to administer it. Obtaining a trustee bond is a good way to protect the interests of the beneficiaries. Essentially, a trustee bond is a type of fiduciary bond that guarantees beneficiaries that the trust will be administered in accordance with the law. It is quick and easy to obtain a trustee bond from leading national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond instantly—from anywhere. It is so simple you can do it now: Trustee Bond Here.We
Don’t Leave This In The Will Either…
While it is a big help if you can leave your family information about funeral arrangements and other personal wishes, it’s best to separate those from the will—and make sure your executor and loved ones know where to find this information. The same is true about bank accounts, passwords and other digital information your family might need upon your death. If you have begun dabbling in cryptocurrency or have other digital assets those require special consideration too. Pets? Here’s some advice from legal experts that you may find helpful as you work your way through your list of practical considerations that will smooth the way for loved ones when the time comes:
Wills are typically not read—or even found—until days or weeks after a death. That’s too late to be of help to the people who must make immediate decisions about the disposition of a body and funeral or memorial services. Instead, make a separate document spelling out your wishes and tell your executor where to find it when the time comes.
Pets can’t own property, so don’t try to leave property directly to your pets in your will. Instead, leave your pet to someone who has agreed to provide a good home—and leave that person some money to help out with pet-related expenses. Some states allow you to set up trusts for animals, but that’s probably not necessary if you have confidence in the person you’ve named to care for your pets after your death.
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