As you age you likely know many people with wills, even if you do not have one yourself. In fact, if you are new to estate planning you might not understand the power of a will. The following is a brief overview of what a will does and what a will does not do.
What can a will do?
A will is the most basic legal instrument that provides you a means of passing on your property to your heirs as you wish. In addition to addressing inheritances, you can also name a guardian for your minor children in you will, should you and the child’s other parent pass before the child reaches age of majority. In addition, you can name an executor in your will. The executor is the person who will oversee the settlement of your estate after you die.
What can a will not do?
Wills are not all-powerful documents. There are some things they cannot do. Depending on state law, you may not be able to disinherit certain people such as a spouse even if you have a will. Some property cannot be distributed through a will because it does not go through probate. This includes assets in a trust or assets with a beneficiary designation such as life insurance policies and certain bank accounts. In addition, wills must be properly executed under state law to be enforceable.
Learn more about wills
Wills are perhaps the cornerstone of any well-rounded estate plan. Still, it is important to recognize the limits of what a will can do. With the right information you can decide if a will is the right instrument to meet your estate planning goals.