A will is a document in which the testator wishes to distribute assets, properties and taking care of persons. It is a very good idea to make a will, just to make sure that all your belongings end in the right hands after your death. You must sign the will in the presence of a witness. In order for a will to be valid, it must follow specific guidelines. This also means that certain items and valuables will not be included in the will. Find out more about the typical will exclusions.
• As you can easily imagine, authorities will not validate wills passing firearms and illegal substances. There are exceptions when the firearms belong to a collection and they have been put out of commission. Antique weapons are highly valuable and passing them to trustworthy inheritors is a must.
• Co-owned properties are also problematic. You cannot add joint tenancy properties in your will. With this type of property, when one co-owner dies, the other co-owner automatically owns the property.
• Also, life insurance proceeds automatically go to the designated beneficiaries. But you can name your estate as the beneficiary. In this case, the proceeds will pass under the Will and go through probate before being distributed to the designated beneficiaries. You should remember that a probate process is pretty lengthy and it may take years until a final distribution plan will be approved and applied. The same rule applies for stocks and bonds for which you have selected a beneficiary. In order to change the beneficiary, you should talk with the brokerage company.
• Keep in mind that a will’s legal purpose is to secure the distribution of your assets after your passing. Anything that goes beyond those limits may not be legally accepted in a will. For example, you cannot add funeral instructions and final arrangements. Besides the legal issues, you should remember that it is likely for many relatives not to know that you have a will or how to access it. This is why you should write your final wishes in a separate document which will be more accessible.
• Adding some illegal or unfair conditions for inheriting some items will not be accepted. For example, you cannot force your inheritors to change religion in order to get access to your assets.
• You cannot use a will in order to escape estate taxes. Passing your estate taxes to your inheritors is illegal.