We’ve seen it countless times. From funeral arrangements and organ donations to gifting assets held in a company, some provisions simply don’t make sense to put in your last will and testament. We’re here to help you avoid seven things that you might be assuming are OK to add to your last will and testament.
1. Funeral Arrangements
The last will and testament tend to be reviewed weeks after someone dies. When this person passes away, you may have set up the funeral arrangements and had a beautiful ceremony only to find that in that loved one’s last will and testament, they actually wanted something completely different. As you can imagine, this is not the best situation to be in, and it happens more often than you might think.
2. Organ Donation
We encourage everyone to be an organ donor. In fact, according to www.organdonor.gov, thousands of lives are saved through organ donation each year. That said, there is a proper way to document being an organ donor and doing that in your last will and testament is not the right way -- this belongs in your health directive documents. Find out more about organ donation or how to become an organ donor at www.organdonor.gov.
3. Designating IRA (Individual Retirement Account)
Make sure you designate beneficiaries directly on your IRA as it will override your Will. For example, Paul wants to leave his IRA to his child, Fred. However, 25 years earlier when Paul set up his IRA account, he designated his daughter, Darla to receive the IRA. Who now gets the IRA? Darla. Make sure you designate beneficiaries on your IRA and not in your Will.
4. Life Support Decisions
Many individuals and families face this very tough situation. We often hear people say, “If I’m in a vegetative state, I do not want my family to suffer please make that known and respect my wishes.” This type of request belongs in the living will declaration, not your last will and testament.
5. Limited Liability Company (LLC) Assets
This can get tricky. As an example, let’s say you own a couple of rental properties in an LLC . You do this in order to avoid any personal liability for debts of the LLC. In your Will, you request that Property X goes to one child and Property Y goes to another child. What’s the problem? It’s your membership interest in the LLC that will pass to others, but individual assets held within the LLC do not change hands as part of the typical estate settlement process.
6. The “Reasons Why” You Left A Bequest
We write this coming from experience - you want to keep the peace in the family? Keep the reasons why you left something to someone for their eyes only. Writing “I leave $5,000 to my child, Elsa” is much better read aloud than a novel as to why you left those $5,000 to your middle child Elsa and not the other kids in the family.
A separate communication with your message to the individual as to why you left them a specific asset is best. Why? This will be read aloud in front of friends and family, and sometimes, publicly in the courtroom.
7. Life Insurance & Annuities
Similar to IRA beneficiaries, whoever you designate in your Life Insurance & Annuities as your beneficiaries will override whoever you’ve added in your Will.