6 Things a Will Doesn't Do

A will is the backbone of every estate plan. I have discussed what a will does, however, knowing what a will doesn’t do is just as important. Many clients believe a will avoids probate and are surprised when they discover that a will must be submitted for probate. No one knows exactly where this misinformation began (likely a chain email from your Aunt Sue, Snopes has not addressed the issue...yet), but the reality is, having a will guarantees probate. However, while there are a few important things to know about probate, probate is nothing to fear. And, when compared to the intestacy process (not having a will at all), probate is like sipping margaritas on the swim deck of a yacht. With that in mind, here are a few important things to remember:

  1. A will is not private. In order to be effective, every will must be filed with the court, making the contents public information.
  2. A will does not address incapacity because a will is not a life document, it only becomes active after death.
  3. A will does not avoid probate. (Try our free Probate Calculator)
  4. A will only controls assets that you own solely in your individual name.
  5. A will does not protect your assets prior to your death.
  6. A will does not control: retirement accounts, pension plans, life insurance, annuities, or employee benefits.

If you already have a will in place then you’re ahead of the game. To learn more about protecting your family and your assets Click Here. You’ll also receive a free copy of my Ebook Six Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust (2016 Edition)

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Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.