I’m attorney Paul Bernstein of the Bernstein law group. And today, I’m going to cover five things you just don’t want to put in your will.

1. Burial wishes

The first item you do not want to include in your will would be your burial or funeral wishes. If you do, your family may not find out about your wishes until after the funeral and the burial. That’s because many times, families don’t find the will or even look for it until after the funeral and burial has occurred.

So imagine the family that finds a will that says whatever you do don’t cremate me. Instead, bury me in this place and in this manner. And there they are, finding the will after the funeral where you’ve been cremated. That’s not a good thing for the family, and it’s not carrying out your wishes either. There are other ways to make sure that the family is aware of your burial and memorial wishes.

2. Your retirement plan

The second thing that you do not want to include in your will is your retirement plan. Who is going to inherit your retirement plan, whether it’s an IRA, a 401k, a 403b, or a combination? Including those in your will would most likely be meaningless because any retirement plan will have designated beneficiaries. You designated them when you first set up that retirement plan and you might have changed them down the road.

By contract with the financial institution that is managing your retirement plan, you’ve stated who the beneficiaries will be. Putting them in a will is going to be meaningless. The will has no authority over the beneficiary designation. So don’t bother putting who you want to receive your IRA or 401k in your will.

3. Organ donation

The third item not to include in your will is organ donation or anatomical gifts. Many people believe that upon their passing, they would like to donate whatever organs they can to people that may need them. You don’t want to include that in the will because much like burial wishes and memorial instructions, the family might not find the will until it’s too late.

There are much better ways of doing that here in Massachusetts. The simplest way is through the organ donation website. It’s easy to find. It’ll put a little notation on your driver’s license that you’re an organ donor. That’s usually the best way to do it.

4. Life insurance benefits

The fourth item not to include in your will is who you want to receive your life insurance death benefits. Much like IRAs and 401ks, a life insurance has a beneficiary, typically a primary beneficiary and then contingent beneficiaries.

It doesn’t matter what you say in your will about life insurance, because it’s not controlled by the will. It’s controlled by the beneficiary designation you’ve listed with the life insurance company.

5. Advanced directives

And the fifth item not to include in your will would be your end of life wishes or advanced directives. These would apply if you were to become unable to communicate and be in a permanent vegetative state. If your condition were to become terminal and incurable, it would also indicate that you don’t want extraordinary medical measures taken, such as being hooked up to all sorts of machines to keep you going.

You don’t want to put that in your will either. They won’t find it until after you have passed away. There are better ways of handling that.

So those are the five things not to include in your will. There are many things to include in your will, depending on your particular circumstances, but none of these five things make any sense and should be dealt with in another way.

I hope you found this information helpful and informative. If you have any questions or are not sure what to do, feel free to reach out.

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