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What are the limitations of a will?

| Feb 5, 2021 | Firm News |

A will is a useful document to have as part of your estate plan. You can use a will to dictate what will happen with your assets after you die. A will also is something you can use to express your wishes about other aspects of your life, such as who will take care of your minor children or how you wish your loved ones to handle your funeral arrangements.

While a will can do many things and handle a lot of your business, the American Bar Association explains there are a couple of things that it cannot do.

Beneficiary accounts

If you have accounts, such as an insurance policy or a retirement account, you will typically name a beneficiary for them. You choose the beneficiary when you initiate the account with the understanding that this is the person who will receive the money or assets in the account upon your death.

The naming of a beneficiary for such an account takes precedence over any other legal arrangement. So, you cannot change the beneficiary or the handling of an account with a named beneficiary in your will because there is a contract in place naming the beneficiary.

Rights of Survivorship

Another situation that your will cannot impact is if you own something with rights of survivorship. In these instances, the property automatically passes to the person who has the rights. This is a matter of law, and your will cannot override that. Even if you try to leave the property to someone else, the court will not allow it to happen because the rights of survivorship will have priority over anything you put in your will.