What property cannot be left in a will?


In most cases any property that is included in your will is transferred according to the instructions in your will. However, there are certain instruments that nullify property transferred by will. These instruments are probate avoidance devices and are commonly used. So it is helpful to know what they are. 

As an example, if you place place property in the one of the following forms of ownership, then leaving that property in your will has no effect:

  • Joint tenancy property. At your death your share in the property goes automatically to the surviving joint tenants, regardless if you left your share in your will.
  • Transfer-on-death deeds or registrations. Here, at your death the real estate or vehicle goes directly to the beneficiary you named on the deed or registration and does not go to any beneficiary listed in your will.
  • Property in a living trust. All property in a trust goes to the beneficiaries named in the trust, not the will.
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts. The beneficiary named on the bank account receives the funds and not any person named in a will.
  • Life insurance proceeds. These proceeds can only go to the beneficiaries named in the life insurance policy.
  • Retirement plans, including pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and profit sharing plans. These funds are payable to the named beneficiaries no matter what your will says.

If you need to review your estate plan to make sure your property is going to exactly the people you want, contact a Utah estate planning attorney at J.Cutler Law.