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Understand the limits of a will

Wills are important documents, and every legal adult should have one. However, wills do not have magical properties, and cannot generally supersede other areas of the law. As you consider your own will or possibly review it for accuracy, be sure to pay special attention to things that you should not include to avoid legal complications later on.

Your will cannot skip right over the probate process. While you may have success avoiding probate with the use of certain kinds of trusts, simply naming individuals to receive your property in your will does not automatically circumvent probate when you die. Similarly, your will does not allow you to avoid estate taxes. It is important to account for these taxes as you create your will and plan to disperse your property.

It is also important to consider any aspects of your will that may break the law. This is especially true in cases where you might leave funds for a specific purpose. The terms of a will should not direct your survivors to do anything explicitly illegal with your estate, although you may have ways to obtain special permission for specific actions if you can legally justify them and go through the proper channels.

Many people have the misconception that wills are ironclad documents and whatever is within them must be carried out exactly as prescribed. However, wills must abide by numerous laws, many of which change regularly. Carefully scrutinize your will for any abnormalities, weaknesses or illegal clauses to fully protect you wishes while you still have time to make the necessary changes.

Source: FindLaw, "What Not To Include When Making a Will," accessed May 18, 2018

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