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Home > Blog > Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts, Deeds, Business Succession) > Understanding What A Will Does NOT Do

Understanding What A Will Does NOT Do


A will is an important part of an estate plan, however, it is important to understand that for most people, their final will and testament will not be a sufficient estate plan in and of itself. There are a number of things that a will does not cover or address. Additionally, there are many terms and provisions that if included in a will, they will not be effective and may even result in the will being void. For this reason, it’s important not to put all of your faith in this single document, and to talk to a West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer to determine all necessary aspects of your estate plan to ensure that your estate is handled in the manner that you intend and that your assets will be thoroughly accounted for and managed.

Things a Will Does Not Cover

A will does not cover non-probate assets. This includes trusts, and any jointly-owned accounts or assets with a right to survivorship. An individual may account for their bank accounts in their will, not realizing that they will actually skip the entire probate process and automatically transfer to the co-owner. This may not be an issue if the co-owner is the intended recipient, but if the testator intended for the assets in their bank or retirement account to be differently distributed, then they will need to adjust for this. Additionally, provisions and terms in the will cannot control human behavior or be void against public policy. For an example of the first, you cannot leave someone a sum of money in your will on the condition that they use it to care for your pet because that is controlling someone from beyond the grave. Rather, the will limits you to leaving that individual money. If the money is intended for pet care then this must be agreed to with the individual prior to the will and cannot be dictated by it. Additionally, stipulations such as leaving money to grandchildren on the condition that they are male, or to a university on the condition that it does not accept students of a certain race, will likely be found void against public policy. If you have medical wishes or needs, a separate document or series of documents will need to be executed to appoint a healthcare surrogate or assign someone the power of attorney to make medical decisions or manage your finances or other aspects of your life in the event that you are incapacitated. These matters cannot be addressed in the will.

Talk to Larry E. Bray

If you are ready to ensure that your assets are protected by developing a thorough estate plan that meets all of your needs, or if you require assistance with any estate planning matters, the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray are ready to help. Larry E. Bray has over 35 years of experience serving the West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Lake Worth Area. Contact Larry E. Bray today to schedule a consultation and take control of your future and estate.



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