Don't Stop At A Will: Understanding The Limitations Of The Last Will And Testament

Posted on: 25 March 2018

If you are considering making a will, do so. There is simply no replacement for this best-known and indispensable legal document when it comes to dealing your affairs after death. The will, however, should not be considered the be-all end-all product when it comes to estate planning. Read on to learn more about using a few other simple ways to serve your estate.

Dealing with Real Estate

When you consider estate property, there is unlikely to be any as valuable as real estate. If you allow this part of your property to be handled by a will, you may have to wait months for the property issue to be resolved through probate court. Instead, take some time to visit your estate attorney, and execute a simple document called a quit-claim deed. This is actually a re-do of your real estate deed where you amend it to cover who you want to inherit the property after your death. There are several variations for amending the deed, such as rights of survivor-ship and others. Be sure to discuss the ramifications of adding family members or others to your deed as well. For example, if you add a son to your deed and he later declares bankruptcy, it could put your property at risk.

Dealing with Your Pet

If you are like most, your beloved pet is a like a member of your family. Trying to leave money or property to your pet is not allowed, however. Animals are considered property, which is understandable when you realize that a great deal of money is invested in livestock. The best way to handle your pet is to designate a person to care for it and to perhaps even provide that person with money to do so.

Revocable Trusts

A revocable trust is very similar to a will, but is better in some ways. Trusts do not have to probated, so any property named in a trust can be dispersed immediately. Additionally, the property named in a trust takes precedence over any named in a will. For example, if you accidentally leave your silver tea set to aunt #1 in your trust and the same set to aunt #2 in your will, aunt #1 gets the set as set forth in the trust.

Payable on Death/Transfer on Death

Dealing with bank accounts and investment accounts through a will usually mean a delay. In most cases, upon the owner's death, the accounts are frozen until probate is complete, which often ties up needed funds to administer the estate for months. A quick visit to your bank or broker can resolve that issue by placing a designation on the account that it is to be disbursed upon your death to any named people.

Speak to your estate attorney to learn more. A lawyer at a personal injury law firm who also offers estate services may be a good choice.