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Estate planning tip: Items that can't be included in a will

When you are making your estate plan, you likely want to plan for anything that might happen in your final days and after you are gone. One way that you can do this is by making a will. While many of our California readers might think that a will is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink document, that isn't true. There are several items that can't be included in a will.

Life insurance policies can't be included in a will because they aren't part of the estate. Instead, the life insurance policy goes to the person who is named as the beneficiary on the policy.

Assets in a living trust can't be included in a will. If property is placed in a living trust, that property won't go through the probate process. If the property is placed in a will, it will go through the probate process. If you have created a living trust and want to change the designations or other points in the trusts, you have to do so with trust forms.

Property that is held in joint tenancy can't be placed in a will. This property will go to the person who holds the tenancy with you. Even if your will outlines another plan for the property, the property will still go to the other person who holds tenancy.

Payable-on-death bank accounts, bonds, stocks and retirement plans all have beneficiary designations. These assets will all go to the beneficiary listed on the accounts. If you want to change those, contact the company, such as the bank or brokerage firm, to have the beneficiary changed.

Making sure that your estate is all taken care of makes it a little easier for your beneficiaries when you pass away. Learning your options for various assets can help you to get it all set up like you want.

Source: FindLaw, "What Not To Include When Making a Will" accessed Mar. 05, 2015

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