A will is the cornerstone of any estate plan. This document articulates how you would wish to have your estate distributed upon your demise. Dying without a will in place (intestate) would mean that the state laws will determine who gets your assets and who doesn’t. Obviously, this may not sit well with you.
That said, it is important to note that not all assets belong in the will. For this reason, it helps to understand what assets you should include or omit from your will.
Here are three assets that do not belong in your will:
Assets that have a right of survivorship
A will only feature assets that have sole ownership. Thus, any jointly-owned or community asset that has a right of survivorship cannot be included in the will. The rationale is that these types of assets are automatically passed on to the surviving co-owners upon your death. However, if you wish to have someone other than the co-owner take up your share of the asset when you die, then consider changing the asset’s title during the estate planning process.
Assets that are held in a trust
A trust, just like a will, allows you to designate certain assets to specific beneficiaries. A trust, however, allows you to nominate a trustee to manage the assets therein. Assets that are held in a trust are transferred directly to the designated beneficiaries without going through probate. As such, they do not belong in a will.
Assets with designated beneficiaries
Certain assets require you to name a beneficiary who will inherit them upon your death. Thus, upon your demise, such assets are automatically taken over by the individual or institution you designated as the beneficiary without going through probate. Such assets include payable-on-death bank accounts, IRAs, retirement accounts and 401(k)s.
A will speaks for you when you are no longer around to make important decisions regarding the fate of your assets. Find how a properly-written will can protect your assets, wishes and loved ones.