When you prepare a Will, it is important to note not every asset can, or should, be passed on. This post explores what you cannot put in your Will, so you can avoid any expensive mistakes.
Assets in a Trust
In a trust, the trustees take legal ownership of any named assets. These assets are governed by the terms of the trust and cannot be altered by your Will. Therefore, in the event of your passing, anything stated in your will about this asset will not apply. The trust owns the asset, not you.
We have all thought about what music we would like at our funeral. But the fact remains, despite what you may think, your Will is not the best place for funeral wishes.
The simple reason for this is that your body is not an asset that’s part of your estate. Additionally, families may carry out the funeral before the Will is even located. Instead, discuss your funeral plans beforehand with your executor and family. Consequently, it is the only clause in a Will that is not legally binding.
Care for a Vulnerable Relative
If you have a vulnerable relative in need, it may be advisable not to leave them anything directly in your Will. If you do, the amount of means-tested assistance they receive could be adversely affected. It is better to provide through a special needs trust instead, which avoids jeopardising access to any means tested benefits or assistance.
These days, people have a great deal of digital property. The most prominent example is a photo library, stored on a cloud. But it can also include music collections, eBooks, and entire hard drives full of writing.
As time progresses, this area of law will develop. Whilst digital bank accounts will not pose a problem, people need to learn that digital assets (such as music libraries) do not belong to them. It was once reported that Bruce Willis tried to leave his music library to his daughter in 2012 but was not allowed to. Whilst it is not clear if this actually happened or not, it raised the very important topic of what digital assets you own and what you do not – even if you have paid for it.
It is unusual, but there have been cases where Wills have included illegal declarations. Of course, these are not enforceable. So, you cannot place a condition on an asset that gets someone to commit a crime. And you certainly cannot declare that your estate is exempt from taxes.
Jointly Owned Property
This often causes surprise. But if you share ownership of a property or bank account, the joint owner gets automatic ownership by law when you die. It does not matter what you state in your will.
Pets cannot inherit legal property, so there is no point leaving your house to them. You can declare that you would like your pet to be looked after by a loved one, however. In such cases, there is usually no need to set up a pet trust fund. Of course, if you have drawn up a pet pre-nuptial, the future of your pet’s care will already be taken care of!
Unrealistic Gift Conditions
It is also important to consider the kind of conditions put on gifts. You cannot leave an asset to a person provided they get married or divorced, for example. And you certainly cannot decree that someone changes their religion.
You can put certain conditions on gifts to encourage someone not to do something, however. So, you could leave a property to a nephew, so long as he uses it as a music studio. But such conditions do cause complications.
Who is going to enforce the clause and for how long? Will they be paid? If they are going to receive payment, you must ensure you use the services of a registered professional.
Ultimately, creating a Will is best left to the experts. That is if you want it to allocate assets to those you love in a way that is legally binding. So, give me a call today on 0116 250 5747 for a free chat and learn how to get started.