Updated: December 13, 2022
All last will and testaments will need to go through the probate process, but that does not mean all of your assets do. Those assets that do not need to be included in your will are known as non-probate estate assets.
There are some things that can be in a will, but are better off done with a trust. This includes providing for a dependent with special needs, poor financial management skills, or a pet— you cannot leave assets or property to pets.
Although there are some things you never want to include in your will, with most assets you can choose whether or not to include them in your will based on your situation and preferences. These are any assets that can be converted to the non-probate assets listed below.
Property that shouldn’t be included in your will is any asset that is not owned solely by you or is already spoken for upon your death.
These are the most common examples of this property, although there is considerable overlap between this list and the non-probate assets list.
Since the settling of the estate and the probate proceedings occur after the funeral, any specific instructions for the wake, funeral, or burial left in the will may not be available until well after the fact.
While you may include requests and make stipulations on certain gifts in your will, there are some that may be inappropriate.