While having a will is a smart move, you might want to make sure that everything mentioned in the will is legal. Each state has rules dealing with probate and wills and when a will contains an illegal provision, the entire will could be stuck in court.
What Should Be in a Will?
The main purpose of a will is to dispose of the property of the deceased. You might think that to be a simple task. However, some issues, such as the ones below, may prove that you cannot just include anything you want in a will. When a will is filed with the probate court in the county of residence, it's subjected to a set of checks to ensure that the will is legal in its entirety. That includes answering some questions, including:
- Is this will the most recent iteration?
- Is this the signature of the deceased?
- Does this will appoint an executor or personal representative?
- Are all bequests legal?
- Are all beneficiaries living?
- Is the property mentioned in the bequests available?
Dealing With Conditions
It's become common for some to include conditions with their bequests. For example, someone might specify that they want their grandchildren to graduate from college before they can have an asset, such as a vintage car. In many cases, placing conditions on bequests just ends up causing problems with the will. Some conditions are illegal, such as those that ask someone to perform an illegal or immoral act to receive property. Some conditions may be impossible to comply with for one reason or another. When conditions are present, it can mean the will remains in probate longer and it can also mean that none of the beneficiaries will receive their inheritances until things are straightened out.
Funerals and Burials
Another issue some loved ones run into has to do with making final arrangements part of the will. While many people include funeral and burial instructions in the will, keep in mind that wills may not be located for some time after the death. If you want to proceed with the final arrangements before the will is found, you may want to set them aside separately.
Pets and Wills
Many don't realize it but pets cannot inherit property because they themselves are property. Leaving your dog money for its care will most likely be struck down by the probate court. Consider, instead, creating a pet trust in which you leave your pet to someone along with instructions and money for their care after your death.
For more information, contact a probate attorney.