When you decide to create and execute a last will and testament, you are giving a gift to the family members who may survive you. You are letting them know where you want your assets to go and who should handle your estate, and otherwise providing for your loved ones. A will makes the probate and estate administration process easier since you have already given instructions that will prevent your family from allowing the court to make all of the decisions for you and them.

However, you may want to be aware of one important caveat — you can’t properly distribute every asset you own through your will. In fact, if you do include certain assets in your will, it could definitely complicate things for your family when the time comes.

What should you leave out of your will?

Your will is a powerful document, but it does have limitations. As such, certain types of property should not be included in your will. Doing so could cause unnecessary issues for your family after your passing. Some examples of property that you should not put into your will are below:

  • Life insurance proceeds for which you already designated a beneficiary
  • Any property you put into a trust, if you have one
  • Any stocks or bonds for which you have already designated a beneficiary
  • Funds from a retirement account for which you already designated a beneficiary
  • Any property you have titled as joint tenancy
  • Payable on death accounts

The types of properties listed above pass to your beneficiaries automatically without the need to go through probate. Another item you should avoid putting into your will is any funeral arrangements. Ordinarily, family members do not read the will prior to the funeral, so if you want something in particular for this event, it would be better to put it in a separate writing and leave it with someone you trust, such as your executor, spouse or other family member.

Even though you create an estate plan to give you peace of mind, the primary function of it is to make things easier on your loved ones after you are gone. If you question whether to include a certain piece of property in your will, it would be better to err on the side of caution and discuss the matter with an attorney. Doing so could help you avoid creating a situation that could unnecessarily complicate your estate.