Amy F. Peters
Your will may not be the only estate planning document you need
Having your end-of-life affairs in order could make your passing easier on your family. Your estate plan should include a variety of information that you wish to provide to your family regarding the distribution of your assets and how to handle specific estate-related tasks. In order to have a complete estate plan, you may need several different documents.
One of the primary documents you may want to utilize is your will. This document has a versatility that allows you to include a range of information you could find applicable to your estate planning needs. However, you may not want to consider your will the place for every detail you want to provide. Some information may have a more suitable place elsewhere.
If you want to plan your funeral ahead of time, leaving the details of your arrangements in your will may not work in your best interests. In most cases, the probate process begins after the funeral takes place, which means that your family may not become privy to the information in your will until after you have been laid to rest. As a result, your family may not know about your funeral wishes when needed.
Rather than using your will for this information, you could create a separate document that you provide directly to your executor or another applicable party. Additionally, you could have an open discussion with your loved ones about your wishes when it comes to funeral arrangements.
Though you likely know that you can use your will to bequeath your assets to surviving loved ones, certain property does not need inclusion in your will. Essentially, any asset that already has a beneficiary designation should not be mentioned in your will. Some assets that typically have such designations include assets in a living trust, life insurance policies, jointly owned property and payable-on-death bank accounts.
If you hope that by creating a will you help your family avoid probate proceedings, you harbor an incorrect notion. This type of document will need to go through the probate process in order for the court to validate it and for asset distribution and any other actions dictated in your will to occur.
Because estate planning can have its complications and each planning document has various stipulations, you may wish to enlist the assistance of a California attorney to better understand your options and determine what tools could best meet your planning needs.