Schedule a Free Consultation Today! | No Fees if No Recovery | Se Habla Español.

Know What a Will Cannot Do

Wrongful Death Lawyers

Wills are the most popular choice for people planning their estates. This is a tool for determining how you would like your possessions and money to be distributed after your death, but it is not the only choice you have. The will is the most popular choice for a reason, but there are some situations where a will is not the best choice. This guide will explain all the things a will cannot do, so you can have a better idea of when you might want to go with an alternative.

What a Will Does Not Do

  1. Avoid Probate – The first thing that happens when a will is carried out is called probate. This is a process where the court appoints an executor and takes care of administrative and accounting concerns. Probate is usually very fast, but it can be a long process in rare cases.
  2. Avoid Estate Taxes – The contents of your estate are subject to taxation if you use a will. Certain types of trusts are immune to taxation. However, alternatives to a will usually have other kinds of fees, so you may still end up paying more than the amount taxes would remove.
  3. Provide Funeral Instructions – The will is only concerned with the passing on of possessions. It does not detail what kind of funeral you would like. Wills are almost always executed weeks after the death of an individual, which will likely be long after the funeral service has been held. You should make sure the executor of your will is aware of a separate document which does detail funeral instructions.
  4. Set Conditions – In a will, you have the ability to detail which of your loved ones will receive your possessions or money in any way you wish. However, you cannot put conditions on how possessions are passed on. For example, if you wanted to gift $1,000 to your nephew when he finishes college, a will does not allow you to do that. A trust, on the other hand, is designed specifically for setting up any kind or number of conditions you wish.
  5. Include Certain Property Types – A will simply is unable to include certain types of possessions, such as pension plan money, the contents of a living trust, and beneficiary property. This is one of the biggest limitations a will has.




Thanks to Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning and what a will can do for you.