Is there anything you should avoid putting in a will?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2023 | Wills

The process of drafting a will allows someone to protect their dependent family members and establish a meaningful legacy. However, some people make mistakes when drafting a will that inevitably affect the probate process.

In some cases, they might create unnecessary conflict among their beneficiaries. Other times, they may leave their estate plan at risk of a challenge because of the terms they chose to include. These are a few things that people should generally not include when drafting a will.

Assets with beneficiary designations

Life insurance, financial accounts with transfer-on-death designations attached and real property shared with a tenant who has rights of survivorship are all examples of assets that already have a beneficiary designated and therefore should not be in someone’s will. Discussing these assets in a will may create contradictory instructions and could lead to conflict later. Assets used to fund a trust also have no place in someone’s will.

Illegal provisions

There are certain terms someone might want to include in an estate plan that will technically violate Nevada state law. Not leaving any inheritance to a spouse or leaving instructions for an executor that might violate state statutes are examples of illegal inclusions that could lead to the courts invalidating someone’s will. People may also want to avoid including too many personal details. Supplementary letters of explanation are useful tools for testators who want beneficiaries and those not included as beneficiaries to understand the reasoning behind their choices. However, too much personal detail in the will itself could lead to issues for executors and beneficiaries later.

Assets for vulnerable dependents

Some people need to leave support for a family member with special needs. Others may want to leave resources to provide care for a pet. A direct inheritance for a family member with special needs could lead to financial abuse perpetrated by those who want access to their resources. Animals generally cannot lawfully own property, so trusts are often a better way of ensuring they receive support rather than ending up given away or euthanized.

Being careful to avoid inappropriate inclusions is as important as including all of the basics in a will. Seeking legal guidance when putting together estate planning documents can help people to avoid common mistakes.