If you were to pass away tomorrow, who would inherit your estate?
This may sound like a trick question but the fact is, it may not be who you think. While most of us assume that our closest relatives and loved ones would inherit our assets, that’s not always the case.
Old life insurance policies, pensions and retirement plans can have an ex-spouse or deceased relative as the beneficiary and since you never thought to change them, those accounts aren’t going to be distributed the way you might have intended.
Pay on Death accounts don’t rely on a Will or Trust to determine who the beneficiaries are, so if your “Ex” is your primary beneficiary, then it will be your Ex that inherits.
Likewise with your other estate planning documents. If it’s been some time since you’ve updated your Will, you might want to pull it out and give it a quick review. The courts can only do what you’ve instructed them to do – they won’t know that you “changed your mind” and even if they did, there’s nothing they can do to alter the valid Will that sits in front of them.
Don’t have a Will? Then you’re placing your entire estate in the hands of the court. Will Aunt Jessica get the photo albums you promised her? Will your brother’s children receive the baseball card collection you told them they’d get? Hard to say. And what’s worse, you won’t be around to do anything about it.
Taking steps to keep your estate planning documents updated is the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed exactly the way you want.
Attorney at Law
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