Creating a plan for what happens to your possessions, assets, and property after you die is necessary. The alternative is that your family must go through a lengthy court process to get what it rightfully deserves. A will is one element in a comprehensive estate plan that can help divide some of your property. However, what might be helpful is finding out what a will cannot do. Explore these four things that you must deal with in other estate documents.

  1. Ensure Your Funeral Plans Are Followed

Some people believe their will is the logical place to include their wishes regarding funeral arrangements. However, this is not the case. The main reason is that it is highly unlikely your will gets read that quickly after your death. The document must first be located, either in a family member’s safe or a law office. You should relay these instructions to family members or leave a separate document with your living will.

  1. Take Care of Your Pets

Pets are family members that you want to take care of after you die. A will is not the place to do this. The law does not allow animals to own property or money, so you cannot leave them anything. To make sure they are cared for, leave money in a trust for the person you want to take them. A pet protection agreement is one way to provide for your pet’s care after you die.

  1. Keep Your Estate Away from Probate

Probate court allows a will to be validated and ensures proper action is taken to distribute the property appropriately. Most wills have to go through probate in some way unless the estate is valued below a statutory guideline. Check your state guidelines for this information. There are ways to leave money to heirs that do not have to pass through probate. Speak to your estate lawyer about these options.

  1. Assign all Your Property to Heirs

There are some items you own that may not be distributed to heirs in a will. Accounts that have beneficiary designations cannot be addressed or changed in a will. A life insurance policy, for example, already has named beneficiaries who you chose to receive the proceeds when you die. You cannot change your mind in your will and leave that money to someone else. You must change the beneficiary designation at the source.

Consider starting an estate plan when you purchase anything in your name, get married, or have children. An attorney, is a good place to start compiling the documents to ensure you have a successful estate plan.