A Will is the first step in preparing your estate, but many then neglect to ensure beneficiaries are appropriately designated on non-probate assets. Non-probate assets are assets that would not pass through the estate and would instead pass contractually. These would include life insurance, retirement accounts, bank accounts (if structured correctly), annuities, etc. These types of assets are said to “pass outside the will” and pass pursuant to contract law.
For example, if a deceased person owns investment accounts and named his child as the beneficiary, that investment account would pass to the child automatically when he dies regardless of what his Will says. Or, if spouses own their property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (i.e. a bank account), the decedents’ one-half interest would pass automatically to the surviving spouse upon his death, regardless of what his Will says.
Without beneficiary designations, this can affect your overall distribution scheme and even necessitate a probate when otherwise unnecessary. Once you have finalized and signed your Will, it is essential that you change your beneficiary designations.
Our attorneys can help you with details regarding how to designate your beneficiaries to ensure that your full estate is distributed according to your wishes. Contact us today about helping you with your estate planning!