Understanding the different aspects of estate planning is a crucial part of creating a comprehensive estate plan that accomplishes your individual goals. For probate assets, many individuals utilize a Last will and Testament to direct the distribution of assets subject to probate. Non-probate assets, such as life insurance policies and assets held within a trust, are distributed upon death according to the mechanism for distribution contained within the asset and are usually directed by the nomination of a beneficiary. It is extremely important to remember beneficiary nominations when creating, reviewing, and revising your estate plan.
Common Beneficiary Pitfalls
One common beneficiary pitfall occurs with assets like bank accounts that often have a payable on death beneficiary option. With these options, a bank is directed to distribute assets within the account covered by that designation to the person listed as the payable on death beneficiary. This can cause unintended problems if your Last Will and Testament directs your bank assets to be distributed differently, and may result in an unintended Will contest that could jeopardize other aspects of your Will. Making sure that beneficiaries for these types of assets are properly aligned with other provisions of your estate planning documents is an important part of ensuring your wishes are carried out.