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What a Will Does Not Do for Your Estate Plan

A last will and testament is a simple, effective tool to help you resolve many of your estate planning needs. However, they cannot (and are not meant to) do everything for you.

The following are some estate planning tasks that go beyond the limitations of a typical will:

  • Reducing estate taxes: If you are hovering around the estate tax exemption limit and are hoping to reduce or eliminate your tax obligations, a will cannot help you. Instead, you will want to use tax-avoidant trusts or make tax-free gifts to charities or loved ones while you are still alive.
  • Avoid probate: All wills must go through the probate process. Most of the time, a well-written will should be able to pass through probate relatively quickly, but complications may occur in some circumstances. Again, if you’re looking to pass on property to loved ones and avoid probate, a trust could be a good option.
  • Pass down certain types of property: Wills allow you to pass down most of your assets to your beneficiaries, but there are some exceptions. They cannot be used to leave behind property held jointly with another person, property already tied up in living trusts, life insurance proceeds, property in payable on death accounts or money left in a pension or retirement plan.
  • Leave funeral instructions: You may use other estate planning tools and documents to leave behind instructions for your will — and make sure a loved one knows where to find these instructions immediately upon your passing. Most of the time, families are far too busy with making your funeral arrangements and coping with the emotional aspect of a death to take a close look at your will.
  • Arrange special needs care: If you have a beneficiary with special needs, you should set up a special needs trust or use estate planning tools other than a will to arrange care for them.

For further information and guidance on establishing a will and other key documents as you plan for the future, meet with a knowledgeable Florida estate planning lawyer at The Charles Law Offices.

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