Understanding the Limitations of a Will

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Wills Lawyer

Most people understand what a will does. It is a legal document primarily used for determining who will receive your possessions after your death. A will also has a few other legal uses which make it important for everyone to have a will. However, there are a few limitations that wills have. If you understand what a will cannot do, you can know when an alternative might be better suited to your needs. This short guide will go over what you should not expect your will to do.

Setting Conditions

Your will cannot set any conditions on passing on your possessions. The will can only specify who receives what. It may be desirable to set conditions. For example, you could leave your grandson $1,000 if he is unmarried or $5,000 if he is married as an extra present. This example would be completely impossible with a will.

If you wish to set conditions on your possessions, you may be better of using a trust instead. A trust is essentially an agreement where you transfer your possessions to a trustee, who will then transfer them to your loved ones at the time of your death. In fact, the primary advantage a trust offers over a will is the ability to set conditions.

Funeral Arrangements

Another big thing that wills cannot do is establish what your funeral wishes are. This is actually a common misconception and many people assume that a will can do this. If you include your funeral wishes in your will, it will carry no legal weight and your wishes may not be followed.

If you want to specify a certain kind of funeral ceremony, you need a separate legal document dedicated specifically for this purpose. It is a good idea, however, to mention this other document in your will. It will largely be the responsibility of the executor of your will to make sure your funeral wishes are followed. By mentioning this other document in your will, it guarantees that the executor is aware of it and will follow it.

Setting up your estate is not as hard as you might think. The first thing you should do is speak with an estate planning lawyer in Chandler, AZ. A legal professional who specializes in estate planning will be able to explain all your options to you, as well as give advice on how to accomplish exactly what you hope to do with your estate, whether it can be done with just a will or multiple different options together.


Thanks to Citadel Law Firm for their insight into estate planning and the limitations of a will.