Let’s face it, none of us want to imagine a situation where something terrible happens to our loved ones or us. When we wake up in the morning, we aren’t entirely sure what the day will bring us. The best thing you can do for everyone is to write out and explain your wishes before anything unfortunate happens. This will leave you and your loved ones with significant peace of mind. If an emergent situation were to arise, your family can breathe easy knowing everything is already planned out. This takes the burden of making numerous difficult decisions off your loved ones, giving them room to heal and tend to other pressing matters. You want to ensure while planning your will that you include everything necessary for a smooth transition to occur after your passing. At the same time, you don’t want to overload your will with unnecessary information.

Beneficiary Designations

Certain accounts and properties do not require transfers via a will. Instead, these accounts have a listed beneficiary directly on the account. By listing a name at filing, the recipient is already set aside and therefore needs no further direction. Such accounts can include:

Life Insurance Policies: These policies leave a place for you to name a beneficiary who will receive the proceeds of the decedent.

Pension and Retirement Plans: Similar to life insurance policies, these plans allow you to name a beneficiary in advance while filing the paperwork.

End of Life and Funeral Proceedings

Something people often worry about is what would happen to them should an accident leave them incapacitated and unable to decide their course of medical treatment. This worry may tempt you to include in your will how you would like your medical decisions handled in the event you are unable to express them yourself. However, bear in mind that your the reading of your will is done after death.

If you would like to write out the specific wishes for your medical care, it is wise to set up an advanced medical directive. A medical directive allows you to communicate how you would want to receive lifesaving care, if any at all, in the event of a life-threatening accident. Some people choose to opt out of extreme life-saving measures, such being hooked up to a ventilator. Others prefer exhausting all medical avenues before calling time of death. Having these decisions in writing before any incidences occur allows you to minimize confusion and disagreements between loved ones. Having these choices written out in advance also takes the burden of making such difficult decisions off of your family entirely.

As mentioned before, a will’s review occurs after death; therefore if you have specific wishes in mind for your funeral or burial, it is wise to share this information with someone close to you. For example, if you desire any type of funeral service you may speak with your spouse, parent, sibling, or close friend about what kind of arrangements you would like to have made. Alternatively, you have the option of drafting a separate document listing these specific instructions. You can leave this file with the executor of your estate to ensure your wishes are fulfilled after passing.

Contingency Inheritance

Also, something to note when writing a will is that you only have so much control of the lives of your beneficiaries from the grave. You are limited to what requirements you can set up for your loved ones to meet for receiving their inheritance. For example, listing they must get married, get a divorce or convert religions could meet potential legal backlash. However, you do have the option to set aside what the inheritance can be used for, such as for promoting science. You can also stipulate when the estate is doled to the beneficiary, such as upon their graduation from college. Keep in mind, there is no one required to police these regulations after your passing. Unless you have set aside money in your will to compensate the executor for these responsibilities, it’s hard to enforce the requirements. Also note, you cannot stipulate a beneficiary to use their inheritance for any illegal purposes.


Posted in: Estate Planning