5 Things Not to Include In Your Will

It is important that your will is clear and complete; however, there are certain items you should not include. In this blog we will discuss five things not to include in your will.

Funeral plans

When you pass away, your loved ones will be overwhelmed. They are not likely to think any further ahead than contacting a funeral home, picking out your casket, setting a date for your funeral, and notifying your family and friends. If your funeral plans are in your will, then it may not be read until after your funeral when your next of kin are deciding how to move forward.

There is nothing wrong with including your funeral arrangement in your will. The caution is to not rely solely on your will to explain your wishes. You should also discuss with your family what you would like for your funeral. At a minimum, you should tell your family to look at your will to learn your funeral plans. Relying only on your family to read your will prior to making funeral arrangements could result in you being buried instead of cremated or buried in your in your military uniform contrary to your wishes.

Jointly Held Property

Generally speaking, any property you or your spouse acquire during the marriage is classified as community property (there are some exceptions). By law, each spouse owns an undivided half interest in the property. Each spouse can only give away their half of the community property upon their death. If you attempt to give away all the property, then your surviving spouse can elect to have it returned.

Property owned by non-married people may be held in different categories. For example, property owned as tenants in common allows you to give your interest in the property away to anyone you choose. Whereas, property owned as tenants with a right to survivorship prohibits you from giving your ownership interest in the property away under your will. Under a right of survivorship, the surviving co-owner will receive the property regardless of who you name as a beneficiary of the property in your will.

Social Media Accounts

Your accounts such as Facebook, iTunes and Amazon Prime are not property you can give away under your will. Technically, though not necessarily legally, you can give your user name and password to someone under your will. However, ownership of these types of digital assets cannot be transferred under your will.

Life Insurance Policies

Certain assets, such as your life insurance policies, pass outside of your will. This means you cannot give away your life insurance proceeds in your will. You give away your life insurance proceeds by naming a beneficiary on the life insurance contract. Therefore, bestowing your life insurance proceeds to someone through your will is an ineffective distribution.

You can set up a testamentary trust in your will and name the trust as your beneficiary on your life insurance policy. This will place the life insurance proceeds in the trust created in your will. Your trust will name a beneficiary of the trust funds. This can be an effective way of providing funds to your minor children.

Gifts to Pets

Some people treat their pets as their children. However, unlike your children, pets cannot receive property under your will. This does not mean you cannot provide property to be used for your pets. In an earlier blog titled What Happens to My Dog When I Die I explain how you can care for your pets.

Similar to the type of trust you can create for the benefit of your children, you can create a trust in your will for the benefit of your pets, e.g. pet trust. In your will, you can name a trustee who will manage the property and/or cash you leave for the care of your pet. You can even specify how you want the funds to be used, such as veterinarian costs, grooming, feeding, bedding.

Contact us at the Law Office of Hugh Spires, Jr. to discuss having a will tailored specifically for you and your family. To get started, you complete the contact form or send us an email at hspires@TexasWillsLawyer.com.