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Bronx Eviction & Probate Law Firm

Our New York City Estate Planning Attorney Explains What a Will Won’t Do for You

Bronx estate planning attorneys say that having a Will makes things easier for those you leave behind. A will lets your family know how you want your property disposed of once you have passed away, providing them with a legal document that explains your wishes. However, there are things that a Will cannot do and it is important to understand these limitations when you are putting your Will together.

Determine Funeral Plans

According to an estate planning attorney in New York City, wills are often not read, and may not even be located, until days or weeks after someone dies. Funeral arrangements must often be made immediately so your friends and family cannot wait to find your will to make those arrangements. Instead of including the information in your will, create a separate document detailing your funeral requests. Be sure that a close friend or family member is either aware of the location of the document or that they have a copy to be used upon your death.

Leave Certain Types of Property

Although a will is designed so that you can leave your assets as you wish, there are types of property that are not covered under a will. If you own property with someone else, known as joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety or community property with right of survivorship, the property will automatically transfer to the person who jointly owns it with you. Property that is included in a living trust cannot be disposed of through your will nor can proceeds of life insurance policies for which you have named a beneficiary. This is also true of pension funds, stocks or bonds for which a beneficiary has been named. Money in an account that is deemed payable-on-death may also not be included in your will.

Reduce Estate Taxes or Avoid Probate

Although many people believe wording in a will may help them reduce or eliminate estate taxes, the fact is that Bronx estate planning attorneys will help you reduce those taxes using trusts or other legal means to do so, not through your will. All wills must be probated, which means it could take several months before proceeds are distributed.

Put Conditions on Gifts

There are limitations on what conditions you can place on items left to others in your will. You cannot require that someone marry, divorce or change their religion in order to receive their inheritance. However, you can put some restrictions on gifts, such as requiring a child to attend college in order to receive their inheritance. You also cannot leave money to be used for something illegal, such as gambling in states where it is not permitted or purchasing alcohol for minors.

Arrange for Care

If you are caring for someone with special needs, your will is not where you want to leave money for their care. Instead, arrange for a trust designed to care for them once you have passed away. Special needs trusts can also be designed so they do not interfere with government benefits. By the same token, most states will not allow you to leave money or property to your pets. Pets are not permitted to own property. You can set up a trust that would cover the cost of caring for your pets after you die, naming someone you trust will take care of them for you as the trustee, but even that is often not necessary if you have confidence the person you have asked to take your pets will care for them after you are gone.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney New York City

If you are in need of a will or trusts to help protect your loved ones after you have passed on, contact Rogers & Rogers, Esq. at 718-994-1640. Their experienced Bronx estate planning attorneys can advise you on the best actions to take to be sure your last wishes are carried out.