Surprising Things You Probably Can't Include In Your Will

Posted on: 22 February 2018


It's usually not a good idea to attempt to write your own will, as there are many legalities that address how a will should be worded and signed and which can affect whether or not the courts recognize that will as valid once you've passed away. You may also overlook some items that should be included in your will, such as the care of your pet, and there are some things that you actually cannot include or dictate in your will! While only an attorney can answer specific questions about any legal matter, including the wording of a will, note a few things that you usually cannot dictate in a will, some of which might surprise you.

Insurance policies and trusts

Life insurance policies will typically have a beneficiary listed on the policy, and this information will typically supersede anything written in a will. While a person can contest the named beneficiary on a policy if they suspect fraud or undue influence over the person who bought the policy, simply stating in your will that you would like someone else to inherit funds from that policy will not automatically "override" a named beneficiary. Discuss the matter with your life insurance policy carrier or an attorney if you're unsure of how to change a beneficiary that is named on the policy itself.

Many trusts work in the same way; the trust deed itself, or other paperwork related to the trust, will dictate how those assets and any interest from the trust will be dispersed after your passing. As with a life insurance policy, discuss this matter with an attorney if you're not sure how to change the details of that trust.

Some joint assets

If you have joint savings accounts, own property jointly with another person, or otherwise share ownership of monies or property of any sort, you may not be able to simply name someone else as a new owner of those properties in your will. The monies, house, and other such items may automatically become the sole property of the other owner. Again, an attorney can advise you on any exceptions to this, and if you're allowed to have some funds or equity in a property given to your heirs. However, don't assume that you can simply dictate that your heirs get money from a certain bank account, are now the new joint owners of a business, or can take over ownership of a home that is in your name and the name of someone else.