If you are ready to begin your estate plan, you may be thinking about who to name as beneficiaries in your will, and how you can divide assets fairly. However, not everything goes in a will. At Curley Law Firm LLP, our legal team assists people in identifying which assets to include in the will, and which may need to be addressed through other methods.
Joint tenancy property, which is any property that has a joint owner, will become your co-owner's property when you die, as FindLaw explains. For example, if you and your spouse own a home together, there is no need to put the house in the will. If you are not married and you want to leave your house to someone, you may have the option to add them as a joint owner and forgo mention of the property in the will.
Another method of ownership that makes leaving an asset in a will unnecessary is a trust, which is an entity you create that is separate from yourself. You then transfer ownership of assets to the trust and name beneficiaries. Anything owned by the trust is no longer part of your estate, and the trustee you name distributes the assets to your beneficiaries as you instruct.
Many other types of assets also require you to name a beneficiary, and upon your death, they go directly to that person. This includes life insurance policies and most retirement plan proceeds. You may also be able to add beneficiaries on your stocks and other securities, as well as a bank account that is designated as payable-on-death.
When you die, your executor has to locate your will and present it to the court to begin probate. This does not always happen immediately, though, so you do not want to put your funeral instructions in your will. You should write them down and share them with those closest to you who are likely to carry out these plans when you die.
More information about wills, trusts and other estate planning matters is available on our webpage.