A Will is one of the most important documents when it comes to your estate plan, however, it does not do everything. A Will is a great start to your estate plan, but just having a Will is not enough. It is true that if done correctly, a Will is a legally-binding document that states your wishes upon your death. It will say where you want your property to go at your death, it will appoint a legal representative, and even mention guardians for your children. Without a Will, upon your death, your estate will belong to the state and the state determines your wishes. While this sounds like a Will is all you need, it is not.
A Will does not transfer all of your property upon your death. For example, if you have investment accounts, a retirement plan, or life insurance your Will does not cover these. Instead, you may be in need of a Trust. A Will also does not protect you if you were to be living, but became incapacitated and could not make health and/or financial decisions for yourself. For that situation, you would need a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy, which is not typically included in a standard Will.
A Will also lacks specific provisions whether it be for a pet, or a disabled, or special needs child. In the case of a special needs child, if you leave the money to that child in the Will, once they receive the lump sum of the money they can become unqualified for benefits, which can be disastrous and costly. Instead, it makes more sense to create a Special Needs Trust for the child so they will not become ineligible. As for the case of a pet, you cannot leave money directly to a pet in a Will. Instead, you can create a Pet Trust that you can put money into that the new caregiver can only use on the pet, and not for any other reason.
In addition to these examples, there are also many other gaps that a Will does not cover. For more information on what a Will does not cover, check out this article by ElderLawAnswers. If you are interested in creating your estate plan, give us a call at 978-657-7437 to set a Strategic Planning Session today!
If you want even more information on estate planning, download Attorney Michael Monteforte's FREE book, Planning Ahead here. Everything you need to know about estate planning is in this book!