A will is an important estate planning document. Before creating a will, it’s important to take the time to understand what a will can and can’t do.
To learn more about how a will can help you achieve your estate planning goals, take a look at some of the facts below. If you want to create a will, meet with an estate planning attorney.
What can a will do?
- Creating a will allows you to name an executor who will be responsible for handling your estate’s affairs. This includes gathering, protecting, managing, and distributing your assets as well as handling finals bills, taxes, and miscellaneous administrative tasks.
- You’re able to appoint a guardian (and an alternate guardian) for the care of your minor children.
- You can list those who you wish to receive your assets.
- With your will, you can decide what assets will be given to each beneficiary.
- You can forgive debt.
- You can leave conditional gifts, such as “I leave $5,000 to my grandson Billy, if he graduates college by the time I die.”
What can’t a will do?
- You can’t leave some types of conditional gifts. For example, “I leave $20,000 to my daughter Suzie, if she divorces her husband.”
- With your will, you’re unable to enforce penalties for anyone who decides to contest your will’s contents.
- Your will cannot control assets that automatically transfer after your death. This includes retirement accounts, pay on death accounts, and life insurance policies as well as jointly owned assets.
- While you’re able to include your funeral instructions, it’s not recommended because your will may not be read for a significant period of time until after your death.
If you have additional questions about how a will can help you, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.