If you are considering preparing a will, this is a great first step in planning for the future. After reflecting on the basics, such as whom you want to be in charge of administering your wishes, you may wonder if there’s anything you shouldn’t include in your will. The answer is yes. There are some things that you should avoid.
Personal Preferences or Desires
Sometimes it is best not to state personal or specific feelings in your will. To simplify the administration of your will, you should not make very specific requests or engage in discussions about your feelings.
For example, you may wish for a certain religious ceremony to be performed at your funeral or you want a celebration of life event. However, it is best not to address this in your will.
The will only comes into effect after someone is laid to rest. An executor will not necessarily be able to implement these wishes after the fact.
It is also probably best not to elaborate on personal feelings about others in your will, as this can set the tone for the administration of your estate. For example, your executor may feel some trepidation about being part of a situation where there appears to be hurt feelings or potential conflict from the outset. You also may wish to not inadvertently make someone a party of your estate simply by mentioning them in your will.
If you wish to be an organ donor, you should not use your will as a place to specify this wish. In most states, there are specific ways to document your desire, such as listing it on your driver’s license. By the time your will is reviewed, it will be too late to do anything about your organ donation wishes.
Health Care or End-of-Life Decisions
Your will is not the right place to document what you would like to happen if you have suffered a substantial and irreversible loss of mental capacity or have an incurable or irreversible condition. You should do this in an Advance Directive for Healthcare. You can also designate an agent to be able to speak with your doctors and make health care decisions on your behalf should you temporarily become unable to do so.
Be Careful About Leaving Inheritance to a Person with Special Needs
If you wish to provide for a person who has special needs upon your death, it is not a good idea to leave them an outright bequest in your will.
This may disqualify them from critical health and other benefits they need to manage their day-to-day life. It can also put them in a situation where they are forced to place your generous gift in a “payback” special needs trust that goes to the government upon their death if not used up. Instead, consider creating a “non-payback” special needs trust now as part of your estate plan.
The above examples are not exhaustive. There may be more items pertaining to your situation that should not be in your will.
Read What Wills Can’t Do to learn about the limitations of the Will.
Remember that a will goes through court-supervised probate process and is viewable to the public after probate. For timeliness and privacy issues, it is good to be thoughtful about what is included in a last will and testament.