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What are the capabilities of a will?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2022 | Estate Planning And Probate

Most likely, you are familiar with what a will is even if you don’t happen to have one yourself. Depending on your age and where you are in your life, you may not feel that a will is necessary for you to have yet. Well, if you have any assets (which pretty much everyone has), it is a good idea to have a will so that you have control over who will receive those assets after you are no longer living.

Even if you have a basic understanding of what a will is, you may not understand the ins and outs of it and what it does, does not do, and cannot do. The basic definition of a will is that it is a document that lets you pass down whatever you have to give, including choosing a guardian for your children if they are minors when you pass away and designating an executor, who will be responsible for fulfilling whatever wishes you have indicated in your will.

Avoid costly mistakes

This advice may be more critical to you if you chose to write the will without the help of an attorney. Although you may do everything right if you write the will yourself, there is also a chance that you may make a mistake that could profoundly affect your estate plan. The following are things that a will cannot do for you and your estate:

Your will is generally not able to help prevent your estate going into probate. When your estate is in probate, your will be a part of the public record, which means that the court has a right to oversee how your estate is distributed. The amount of time that it takes and the amount of money that will be spent varies from state to state. Certain things are not included in probate, such as accounts in the name of beneficiaries (life insurance and retirement funds).

What is not a capability of your will

Your will should not be used as a tool to force another person’s hand to do what you want them to do. It is not appropriate to stipulate conditions to your heirs that say that if your heirs don’t meet those conditions, they will not inherit from you. According to people who understand estate planning, putting conditions in a will is not a good idea. Depending on the condition, some of them are not legally enforceable.

Some conditions are so extreme that they just don’t work. Just like the other terms of your will, another person will be responsible for ensuring that the heir meets the terms of the conditions and whether the heir met the condition may be somewhat subjective.

Valuable advice from an experienced estate planning lawyer

If you are ready to write your will, the expertise of an experienced Arkansas estate planning lawyer may be very helpful. It is important for you to have everything in order so that you are able to have control over your assets. You will want to have peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out and that the people whom you designate to inherit specific assets actually receive what you want them to have. It is important for you to be confident that your legacy will be passed down properly and according to your wishes.