Some things that don’t go in a Will

There are two very common questions we receive at LegalWills, and it is probably a good idea to explain the answers here in our blog;

Why is there no place in my Will for my funeral arrangements?

Why is there no place in my Will to list all of my assets?

Funeral Arrangements

It is a very common misconception that your Will includes a detailed description of whether you wish to be buried or cremated, who you would like to attend your funeral, and even the style of funeral. Although the expenses for your funeral will most likely come out of your estate and there is mention of covering your funeral expenses in your Will, the detailed description of your funeral wishes should be kept in a separate accompanying document. There are two good reasons for this; firstly, your funeral wishes are not a legally binding document, they are simply an expression of your desires. Although most families will respect the funeral wishes if they are written down, they do not have the legal weight of a Last Will and Testament. Your funeral wishes may range from the style of service, who you wish to be in attendance at your service, and the amount that you wish to spend. All of this should be written in a separate document that is then stored with your Will. You can even use a service like the one at www.PartingWishes.com that allows your loved ones to access your funeral wishes online once you have passed away. This addresses the other important reason to not include your funeral wishes in your Will – by the time your Executor has located your Will, taken it to the probate courts and been given authority to act as your estate trustee, your funeral would have long been over. It would be a pity at that point to realise that you wanted to be buried, when you were cremated two weeks prior.

Your funeral wishes do not have to be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Last Will and Testament, and can be updated without any of the formality associated with a Will. You can also make as many copies as you wish (which you should not do with a Last Will and Testament) so that your loved ones will have immediate access to the document when they need it.

A List of your Assets

There is another misconception that your Will includes a complete list of your assets. There are a number of reasons why this is a bad idea. Your Will is a document that comes into effect when you die and hopefully this will be at some point in the distant future. If you have a complete list of assets including bank account numbers, household furnishings, cars, bicycles etc, then the Will has to be updated every time a change is made to an asset. If you are leaving something specific to an individual, then it must be named individually, but if you are leaving your entire estate to a single person or shared between a few people, then you should just list it as your entire estate.  The best approach is to keep a separate list of all of your assets to help your Executor at the appropriate time and store this with your Will. This document can be annotated and changed on a daily basis if necessary, but it is not a legal document that has to be signed and witnessed every time a change is made. At LegalWills we have a separate document designed for this purpose, and it includes contact details for loved ones and professional contacts. It serves as an aid to your Executor when they have to distribute your estate, and this is a far more practical approach than including this level of detail in your Last Will and Testament.

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