18 Things Everyone Forgets to Include in Their Will—But Shouldn’t

Wills and estate plans are essential ways to ensure what will happen to your belongings and property when you die or are incapacitated. However, people often forget to include important information in their wills before it’s too late, complicating matters for their descendants. Here are the 18 common things people forget to include in their will.

Digital Assets

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Porte Brown advises including instructions on accessing online bank and brokerage accounts, social media accounts, and blockchain assets. Password lists should be kept updated, and digital assets should be logged in an inventory. Designating an executor to handle a digital legacy is also an effective way to ensure benefactors can access it.

Personal Sentiments and Letters

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Writing personal letters for your loved ones to read after your passing is important. Ensure you leave instructions for distributing personal mementos, and consider the significance of each item or letter when choosing its recipient.

Subscription Services and Memberships

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Creating a list of all active subscriptions and memberships to be canceled or transferred is important. Include instructions on handling loyalty points or how to take advantage of accrued benefits, and designate beneficiaries for memberships with significant value or transferability.

Online Businesses

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Nolo notes, “Writing a will is a good idea for anyone, but it’s especially important if you own your own business.” Leave instructions for its transfer in your will to avoid your business being subject to your state’s laws and your family paying for lawyer fees and extra court time.

Loans and Debts Owed to You

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In your will, leave detailed information about loans you’ve made to others, including the repayment terms and instructions on whether to collect or forgive these debts. You can also designate who the loans and debts should go to.


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Educational trusts are an excellent way of ensuring your children or grandchildren can access the funds needed for college. You can also leave funds for education in your will, with criteria for their use and instructions for their reallocation if they are not used.

Funeral and Burial Wishes

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It’s important to include detailed preferences for your funeral arrangements, including the location and type of service. Paying for funeral arrangements or burial plots in advance will prevent the check from landing on your family after you pass.

Pet Care Instructions

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund recommends trusts over wills for animals because instructions for a pet’s care may not be legally enforceable in wills. They write that “it is relatively easy to set up a worry-free pet trust with the help of an estate planning attorney” to provide “an extra layer of security and additional protections.”

Organ and Body Donation

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Including specific instructions for organ donations or donating your body to science will allow your body to help others with health problems and educate those looking to enter the medical profession. Designate who should be notified of your wishes in your will to ensure your body goes to your institution of choice.

Personal Archives

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In your will, leave instructions for the preservation or distribution of your personal archives, including journals, letters, and photos. You can designate beneficiaries for sentimental pieces or collections and include guidelines for their digitization.

Family Heirlooms

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Texas Trust Law notes that the “safe way to pass on family heirlooms is via a trust of will” and recommends asking “your estate planning attorney how to address personal heirlooms best.” In your will, you can leave detailed descriptions of the historical significance of family heirlooms and explain why they are being left to specific beneficiaries to stop arguments after you pass.

Social Media Legacy

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Social media should be treated like physical belongings in your will, with instructions for your descendants on handling it. Decisions on whether to memorialize, deactivate, or delete social media posts can be planned out in advance of your passing.

Business Partnership

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To avoid your business partner having to liquidate your business partnership potentially for less than it’s worth due to the economic climate, leave detailed instructions in your will on how you wish the business to proceed when you pass. You could leave your half to your heirs, allowing them to become new associates, or sell their share to your business partner.

Intellectual Property

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Legal Zoom notes that “copyrights, patents, and trademarks live on after you die, and they can be an important source of income for your family.” In your will, ensure you specify heirs for intellectual property rights, including any copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

Charitable Donations

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It is meaningful and rewarding to give a portion of money in your will to a charity or cause you support. Include instructions for donations or setting up memorial funds to ensure your money reaches your charity of choice.

Unfinished Creative Works

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Instructions for unfinished creative works should be left in your will. These works can be completed by others, published, or disposed of depending on your wishes, and you can designate the individuals responsible for making the ultimate decision on the works.

Personal Collections

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Gayla K. Austin LLC notes that collections can be valuable or have more sentimental value than monetary value, but that “regardless of its dollar value, if you have a collection, it should be included in your estate plan.” Leave instructions for the care, valuation, and distribution of your collection or guidelines for auctioning or selling it.

Messages and Advice

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Letters, videos, and audio recordings can be useful ways of giving advice or messages to your descendants. These messages can help your descendants accept and begin to heal from your passing and celebrate your life.

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