What can a Will do for me?

  • Name your beneficiaries who are to receive your assets at death, including real estate (land and buildings), bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, retirement accounts, furniture, cars, boats, and anything else that you own solely in your own name – with no named beneficiary or co-owner.
  • Specify limitations on distribution of an inheritance.  For example, provide that younger beneficiaries shall not have complete access to their inheritance until they reach a designated age, such as 21, 25, or other age.

What doesn’t a Will do for me?

When you own an asset jointly with someone else, your Will does not transfer ownership of that asset, unless the joint owner(s) has died before you. If you die before the joint owner(s), they automatically inherit that asset, despite what your Will might say about it. This is true of any real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, or any other asset you own as a joint tenant.

If you own real estate as a “Tenant by the Entirety” or “Joint Tenant”, the same rules apply.

If you own real estate as a “Tenant in Common”, your Will transfers only that fraction of the real estate that you own, whether or not the other tenant(s) in common are/is still alive. For example, if two individuals own real estate as tenants in common, each of them can transfer one-half ownership in their real estate by their Wills.

Your Will does not control assets for which you have designated a named beneficiary who is still alive at your death. Therefore, if your bank accounts, stock accounts, mutual funds, IRAs, 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, pension plans, annuities, life insurance policies or other assets have an “In trust for” (i/t/f), Payable on Death (POD), Transfer on Death (TOD), or other beneficiary designations, those assets will be inherited by those named beneficiaries, at your death, automatically, so long as they are alive.

The Witecki Law Office provides the following estate planning services: Wills and Trusts, Asset Protection, Medicaid Planning, Elder Law, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Administration, Guardianships, and Health Care Proxies.