An “I love you” will is a very simple will wherein all assets go to the surviving spouse and at the spouse’s death, to the children. Although the “I love you” will is commonly used by general practitioners and may make sense on the surface, but to clients it holds many perils.
Benefits of the “I love you” will
It’s inexpensive to create.
You can appoint guardians for minor children and an executor.
Perils of the “I love you” will
It doesn’t control most property owned by married couples. It doesn’t control jointly owned property, beneficiary designation property, in trust for property, or payment on death or transfer on death property.
It doesn’t include federal estate tax planning.
It doesn’t include incapacity planning.
There are no provisions for asset protection for beneficiaries.
The will guarantees probate which is expensive, time consuming, and public.
There is no pet planning.
Children will likely be unintentionally disinherited upon remarriage.
If doesn’t address blended family issues.
It provides no guidance.
A better estate planning solution
For a few folks, the “I love you” will is appropriate. For most folks a revocable living trust would be a better fit. A revocable living trust works in conjunction with a pour-over will. The pour-over-will is a special will that names guardians, appoints an executor, and names the trust as its only beneficiary.
Revocable living trust benefits
Controls all property funded into the trust.
Includes federal estate tax planning.
Includes incapacity planning.
Provides asset protection for lifetime beneficiary trusts.
Avoids probate when fully funded.
May include pet planning.
Avoids unintentional disinheritance.
Can provide for second spouses and children from a first marriage.
Provides explicit instruction as to what your trustee should do and when she should do it.
If you have questions regarding the use of an “I love you” will, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.