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What Should You Not Put in A Will?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question: "What Should You Not Put in A Will?"

Attorney Burton discusses this question and provides the viewer with a list of things you should not place inside your Will because remember, a Will is private during your life but becomes public after your death when it is filed with the probate court. For this reason, there are certain things you should definitely not put in writing inside your Last Will and Testament. Watch this video to find out Attorney Burton's answer to this intriguing estate planning question.

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Hello, I am attorney Thomas Burton and today’s question is the following:

“What should you not put in a will?” - very good question and I would say you should not put anything in your will that you do not want to become public information, after you die.

The reason for this is that a will is a private document during your life because as long as your life, you can amend, revoke or change your will completely but once you die, the will by definition becomes a public document and according to Wisconsin law, must be filed with the probate court within 30 days of your death.

So you do not want to put anything in the will that you would not want to become public information after you pass away. For this reason, you will often see many celebrities and well-known figures use trust, to pass their assets on to the next generation because often, once they passed, the first thing the newspapers do is run down to the courthouse to get a copy of the will and I am often amused by this because sometimes the newspapers will say so-and-so died and they didn't leave anything to their children etc. but if you know estate planning, you realize they may be did leave assets to that child via a trust which is a private document.

But in terms of what you should not put in your will, I would not put any personally identifiable information about a beneficiary in there, such as a social security number. That's private information, you don't want that becoming public after you die and while as this question comes up sometimes, sometimes a bank will ask that and a forum for transparent death payable on death beneficiary, but you don't need it in a will. You just need the name of the beneficiary. And again, I would avoid anything else that's too personal putting it in the will. And if you're concerned about this talk with your attorney about ways to avoid probate such as using a trust, keeping everything private, after your death.

So great question.

Thank you for asking and we'll see you next time.

© 2020 Burton Law LLC. All Rights Reserved. Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired. For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact the office.


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