Don't Make Your Will Stand Alone

Everyone understands the importance of having a will but some stop short of creating a comprehensive plan. A will is often a must-have and addresses a lot of important estate issues. Those wishing to complete their estate plans, however, would do well to read below and consider the will only a first step in the estate-planning process.

Create Separate Burial Instructions Outside the Will

Many people just naturally believe that a will is a perfect location for instructions on dealing with the funeral and burial. Unfortunately, those wishes could go unmet if the will cannot be accessed or found. In some cases, the will cannot be located in time for funeral planning or it's stuck in a safe deposit box that cannot be accessed for several days. The much-easier solution is to address this issue by working directly with a funeral home and making your wishes known by making a plan. You can also speak personally to your loved ones about what you want and then put everything down on an easy-to-find document.

Understand Property Outside of Probate

Not all estate assets go through the probate process and that is because a last will and testament have a few limitations. The below situations are what many mean when they say they are "avoiding probate."

  • Trusts: You can use a trust rather than a will, which has several advantages such as efficiency. The beneficiaries named in a trust don't have to await the end of probate; they can access their inheritances in as little as a couple of weeks. Also, wills are public and trusts are private so there is no way for other beneficiaries or strangers to know what is being left behind.
  • Deeds: You can make changes to deeds before death that allows the seamless passage of real estate to a survivor without it having to be probated.
  • Transfer on Death: This designation names one or more people to take control of a bank or investment account upon the death of the owner.

Pet Care After a Death

As far as the law goes, pets are property. That view is slowly changing and some states now allow the needs of a pet to be addressed in wills. However, speak to your estate lawyer about creating a more comprehensive way to deal with your pet using a pet trust.

Talk to estate administration attorneys to make your plan as complete as possible for the loved ones you leave behind.