The internet has empowered us with information about everything. Access to information regarding trust and will has made it easier for people to plan their estate and create an appropriate will. However, it has been noted that the number of people opting for an estate plan and trust has decreased. A survey conducted by an organization revealed that more than half of the 2,400 people surveyed have not executed a will or drawn an estate plan. A will or an estate plan is one of the essential documents, and any estate and probate lawyer will second on that. With a properly created estate plan and trust, one can ensure their hard-earned wealth and assets will be handled as per the provision even after their demise.

While it is true that an estate plan can do a lot of things, it has certain limitations.  When planning an estate and trust, one must consult an estate planning attorney to understand what they can achieve and its limitations.

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Pass the ownership in real estate: There are certain terminologies in the real estate property or deed that don’t permit one to include them in the will’s provisions. If a deed states that any property ownership is “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” the remaining interest passes on to the surviving tenants. You can’t overrule this provision with a will.

Override designated beneficiaries: At the time of opening a saving or investment account, one is asked to name someone as a “pay on death” beneficiary. As per the rule, the interest passes on the pay to the death beneficiary upon your death. Similarly, one has to choose someone as a beneficiary when purchasing a life insurance policy. The person named as the beneficiary on the policy automatically gets the assets upon your death. Provisions in your estate plan that contradicts these agreements nullifies.

Evade Debts to Creditors: According to the Virginia Law, an executor of the will must clear all the debts and settle creditors before fulfilling any other bequests. One should consult a probate and estate attorney in case one has to sell off their personal property to pay the creditors. One can’t use the will to evade debts and creditors. However, the executor has the right to contest any claims made by the creditors because they are unsupported.

Naming a guardian for minor children: According to Virginia’s statute on testamentary guardians, you can appoint someone as a guardian of your minor children who will look after them after your demise. However, you can’t hand over your child’s custody to the guardian if the other parent is alive. The statute further states that one can pass on the child’s custody only if the other parent has been deemed unfit to carry on parental rights through the legal process.

Keep the estate matters private: There are times when the estate matters have to be made public. When a will goes through the probate process, every matter related to the estate and finances is made public. The executor of the will is required to prepare an inventory of all the real estate and other assets you possess.