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A will is not a catch-all for estate plan information

Like many Texas residents, you may feel ready to begin estate planning so that your family will know your end-of-life wishes when the time comes. You may also have a similarity with other individuals in that you feel uncertain where to begin planning and what documents to use. Because of its usefulness and versatility, you may first want to consider creating a will.

Though you likely know that many people use a will as part of their estate plans, you may not want to consider the document a catchall for all of the information you hope to provide. While you can leave many details regarding your wishes in your will, you may want to understand what information to leave out or record elsewhere.

Certain assets

People use wills to instruct how they want their assets distributed after death. However, certain assets do not need including in your will. For instance, if you have jointly owned property with the right of survivorship, that property would directly pass to your joint owner, and therefore, you would not need to specifically address it in your will. Additionally, any asset that already has a beneficiary designation does not need inclusion in the will, such as:

  • Assets in a living trust
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Retirement account proceeds
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Payable-on-death accounts

If you include these in your will, you may create an inconsistency that could lead to conflict during probate proceedings.

Funeral instructions

Another aspect of your estate plan that you may wish to record elsewhere relates to your funeral arrangements. Many people choose to make their funeral plans ahead of time to prevent that burden from falling on loved ones during their time of grief. However, if you put these instructions in your will, your family may not find them until after the funeral has taken place because probate proceedings -- and the reading of the will -- typically begin after this event.

You could still utilize other methods for making your funeral arrangements known, such as speaking directly with your family members or creating a separate document given to your estate's executor.

Creating your will

What you do choose to include in your will may depend on the specific details of your estate. If you hope to utilize this document to your benefit and the benefit of your family, you may wish to gain reliable information from local legal resources on how to properly create a will.

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Plunk Smith, PLLC
1701 Legacy Drive, Suite 2000
Frisco, TX 75034

Phone: 972-370-3333
Fax: 972-294-5274
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Plunk Smith, PLLC
Plunk Smith, PLLC