Things NOT to Include in an Estate Plan

  • Estate Planning
things not to include in an estate plan | estate and probate legal group

When setting up a will or estate plan, you may be tempted to include everything you can think of. But that’s not a good idea. It’s better to sit down and decide what is actually needed in your estate plan and what is better left with someone you trust. You’ll want your will or trust and other vital documents included. But there are things not to include in an estate plan.

What is an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is not only for the rich and famous. Even us regular people need one.

An estate plan is a compilation of documents describing the distribution of assets after you pass away and your medical and financial decisions if you become incapacitated. The top 3 papers that should be included are:

  1. Will or Trust
  2. Healthcare Directive
  3. Power of Attorney

You may choose to include many other documents in your estate plan. Depending on your situation, you can add guardianship for minor children, a confidentiality waiver and even passwords for all digital accounts.

But some documents should NOT be included.

What are Some Things Not to Include in an Estate Plan?

You may want to put absolutely everything in your estate plan, so you don’t miss anything. But that can do more harm than good. Having unnecessary information can delay the distribution of assets and tie up your estate in court. Here are some things not to include in an estate plan:

  • Life Insurance Proceeds
    • When you establish your life insurance policy with a carrier, you name your beneficiaries. Sometimes people forget and use their will to list life insurance beneficiaries. Your insurance policy will take precedence over the will, and the beneficiaries will remain with what the policy reads. This also holds true for retirement accounts (401(k) and IRA) and financial accounts with a Payable on Death named.
  • Jointly Owned Assets
    • Generally, you cannot include assets that someone else partially owns. You may want to give your portion to your heirs, but there are specific legal ways to do that, not simply state it in a will.
  • Funeral Arrangements –
    • You want to discuss your funeral arrangements with someone before you die or have it written down in a place where people will find it. It’s common to have a funeral first, then the reading of a will.
  • Personal Information
    • You may want to disown or exclude someone from your will, but you do not need your will to go into detail as to why. It is better to leave that person a letter or talk with them before you pass away.

As you can see, there are several documents that you do NOT want to include with your will. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney will help you understand what is needed and not needed in your plan.

It’s a good idea to entrust someone with an In Case of Emergency document. This can list where your will is located and what attorney you used. Plus, it can include all personal information.

Oak Brook Estate Planning Attorney

Our estate planning lawyers can advise you on the best options to help you create your will, power of attorney and all documents within your estate plan. We will also explain what documents not to include. To talk to a qualified attorney in Chicago, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.

Areas We Serve: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties.