Let’s look at what we should leave out of our will, according to Best Life’s recent article titled “Never Include These 2 Things in Your Will, Experts Warn.”
- Never include a conditional gift in your will. A conditional gift is when money or property is given only when and if a specific event takes place. For instance, grandpa might leave a conditional gift for his grandchild, if she graduates college or gets married. These provisions are often drafted in the hopes of encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors and have a tendency to get messy.
Even the seemingly basic condition of graduating from college can turn into a major issue, if the beneficiary decides to pursue the trades or accelerates in college and is offered an excellent job before earning her degree.
Similar obstacles—and, frequently, creative workarounds from beneficiaries who want to unlock their inheritance—will also be encountered with other conditional gifts. However, there are still ways to achieve the spirit of the conditional gift without it getting complicated. Instead, give the bequest outright without any conditions but include the encouragement that the beneficiary does something specific.
Another option is to hold the gift in a trust for a beneficiary. With a trust you can designate a trustee to be in control of the assets in the trusty after your death. The trustee will have discretion as to the timing and amount of distributions. You can also detail how narrow or broad that discretion should be.
- Be careful with dollar amount bequests. The second thing you should never include in your will is a dollar amount bequest.
While this might seem common, it’s not recommended. This also has the potential to create major conflict within a family.
A better option is to use percentages. In this way, your estate will self-correct for size and each beneficiary will get their proper share.
Every will is specific to the person who creates it. In order to ensure that yours is done properly, meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a will that benefits you and your loved ones—without any unexpected problems.
Reference: Best Life (March 20, 2022) “Never Include These 2 Things in Your Will, Experts Warn”