The purpose of an estate plan is to direct who receives property, what they receive, and when they receive it. Estate plans must be flexible so that they will continue carry out your wishes as your assets and circumstances change.
So while Wills and Trusts sometimes identify specific assets, and gifts, they usually make provisions for assets in general, “I leave all my property to…”. This allows your Will or Trust to carry out your wishes as assets and circumstances change such as the need to provide for minors.
If bank or broker accounts, annuities or insurance policies, specifies pay on death beneficiaries or contingent beneficiaries, these designations will trump – undo – your estate plan. For example, your Will may leave assets to minor children, but to be paid to them only when they reach a particular age so as to protect the minors and the inheritance. However if your account lists your children as pay on death beneficiaries, your children will receive that asset on your death, outright and free from the governing Will provisions. Put simply, the Will is not being used to its fullest intention when accounts or policies have beneficiaries listed.
In order to properly ascertain the manner in which you want all assets distributed, you should have an estate plan which details your specific wants and needs and let your estate plan do the work. We recommend you go through your assets and make sure that all accounts have no beneficiary or contingent beneficiaries or that “my estate” is listed.
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The content in this document is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice or an offer to perform services on this subject matter. Contact Visci & Associates to schedule a consultation at our offices in New York and New Jersey.