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Even if they appear legal, wills might be unenforceable

Many New York residents have carefully planned estate plans that might not be as legal as they appear. The language used in wills might render them legally unenforceable. Advisers say there are specific practicalities and rules to follow to avoid carefully crafted documents declared invalid, and those rules mainly cover things not to include in wills.

Beneficiaries of life insurance policies and bank accounts with payable-upon-death instructions will automatically receive those proceeds regardless of what is stipulated in a will. A will can also not entitle anybody other than the joint tenant to property with joint-tenancy. Subjecting gifts to conditions such as changing religion or marrying a specific person might not be a good idea because the court will not enforce such bequests, nor will gifts to aid illegal purposes like unlawful drug manufacturing be enforceable.

Wishes and plans that might be better served by other documents or trusts include funeral instructions because wills are typically read long after the funeral took place. Provisions for the care of disabled family members might be best dealt with in a special-needs trust. Ensuring proper care for beloved pets is also not to be addressed in wills because pets cannot own property. Pet trusts can be set up for this purpose.

Taking care of estate planning can be a challenging process. Fortunately, it is not something anyone has to do without the help of a New York attorney who has extensive experience in drafting these documents. An estate planning attorney can ensure that the unique circumstances of each client are reflected in wills, trusts and other documents while ensuring that the language will be legally enforceable.

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