If a person dies without a will, there are state laws that will determine what happens to the estate. This process can be lengthy and expensive, especially for the beneficiaries and heirs who want to settle the estate and move forward. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to have an updated will.

A good, thorough and carefully drafted will is the foundation of any estate plan, but there are limits to what this specific document can do. If you are drafting your will, you will want to learn more about what you can do with a will and what other things you may need to accomplish all of your estate planning goals. Knowing what should and should not be in your will can save you time as you work for appropriate protection and security for your future interests 

What should you leave out?

A will allows you the opportunity to spell out what you want to happen to certain types of property after your death. You can name beneficiaries and even plan for the care of a pet in case of your unexpected passing. However, a will is not a catch-all for all of the things you want to happen in the future. Some of the details you cannot or should not include in your will include:

  • Funeral plans – You can communicate your desires for your funeral to a trusted individual or include them in another document for your family. Your family may not even look at your will until after the funeral, and they may not see your instructions until it’s too late.
  • Attempts to get out of estate taxes – There are ways that you can reduce the taxes associated with your estate, including setting up different types of trusts. Your will may not be the right way to accomplish this goal.
  • Certain types of property – There are types of property you cannot pass to someone else through a will, including joint tenancy property, property held in a trust and certain types of accounts. Instead, you may need to update beneficiary designations. 

If you have questions about how you can accomplish specific goals through a will and other estate planning documents, you may want to speak to an experienced New York estate planning attorney about these matters. Working with a legal professional can help you avoid missteps and issues that can cause you and your loved ones problems down the road.