There's no doubt about it – everyone needs a will. Wills are easy and simple ways to make your wishes known after you pass away. What they are not, however, is a one-stop solution to all estate issues. Read on to find out where a will stops short of addressing some estate needs.
Addressing Your Final Needs – Wills make a poor choice if you want your final wishes to be met when it comes to burial and funeral instructions. Sometimes, wills are not located and read until after the funeral. Instead of a will, make your needs known by leaving instructions in plain view or give them directly to a loved one. You might also consider making your own final arrangements directly with a cemetery or funeral home.
Addressing Your Pet's Needs – Pets are considered property and you should plan ahead to leave them to someone who wants to do it and who you trust. Consider leaving the pet caregiver money to use to care for the pet. You cannot, however, leave money to your pet in a will. You might also consider addressing your furry friend's needs using a special pet trust.
Addressing Your Beneficiaries – Anything you leave to beneficiaries has to await probate court's final decree. Since you can estimate probate taking several months, that means quite a wait for your beneficiaries. Instead of making them wait, consider using a revocable trust instead of a will to address your property. A trust is similar to a will but doesn't need to be probated. In most cases, beneficiaries are able to access property addressed in a trust in a matter of days or weeks.
Addressing Conditions – It can get tricky when people want to place conditions on inheritances. For example, perhaps you want to pay for your grandchild's education, but you expect her to get good grades and join your favorite sorority while doing so. Those are conditions and in some states, they invalidate a will. Even in states that allow conditions it could unnecessarily complicate a will and probate. Instead of holding up probate, consider creating a trust where the trustee controls the money and how it's disbursed according to your wishes.
Addressing Property Otherwise Addressed Elsewhere – Trusts, payable-on-death descriptors, deed designations -- these are but a few property designations that take precedence over a will. It can be confusing when a given item is addressed in various ways. Speak to your estate attorney, or check out probate law services, to find out the best way to convey an item to your loved one that will avoid inconvenient delays.