Be Careful about These Three Estate Issues and Your Will

A will should not be considered a catch-all for nearly any issue. Some things are best dealt with in other ways. The following three issues are best left out of your last will and testament.

Your Final Arrangements

While people don't use their wills to plan out their funerals as much anymore, some people still have the idea that this is the best way to communicate their final wishes. No matter how you want to be memorialized, you should make and keep your plans separate from your last will and testament. Often, wills are not located or read until after the burial has taken place, which can mean confusion and regret on the part of your loved ones. For example, some people leave their wills in a safe deposit box at the bank or with their attorney. If the plans for the burial fall on a weekend or a holiday, there may be no way to access your will until later.

Instead, let your loved ones know about your wishes for your funeral, memorial services, burial, or cremation ahead of time and discuss it with them. Leave a copy of it in an easily accessible location, such as a desk drawer or unlocked file cabinet. You can also make plans directly with the funeral home. Doing this form of planning can help ease the burden of uncertainty and decision-making for your loved ones.

Pet Arrangements

Many people view their beloved pets as members of the family, and that is understandable. Unfortunately, the law looks upon pets as property, so they cannot inherit property themselves. Instead, consider naming a loved one to take custody of the pet after your death. You can always add a monetary inheritance for the pet custodian so that they can attend to their needs. Consider also creating a pet trust. This aspect of estate planning helps to spell out how you want your pet to live once you have passed away.

Conditional Bequests

Most people believe that a bequest should come with "small print." Conditional bequests provide an inheritance to someone, but that person has to perform certain acts before they can receive it. For example, you might think you are encouraging your nephew to seek higher education by providing money to them. Problems might occur, however, if you make it clear that they must attend only certain schools or pursue certain degrees of study. The courts have often struck down these conditions as some conditions are a burden upon the beneficiary. Think twice before leaving an inheritance with conditions attached.

Speak to a will attorney to learn more.