Wills and Probate Assets
What exactly does your last Will and Testament do for you? The Will you signed may not control the distribution of your assets to your heirs. The Will only transfers Probate assets to your heirs. What are Probate Assets, those are assets that are retained in your name with no named beneficiary or designation of payable on death. Examples of assets that are Non-Probate Assets which your Will does not control the distribution are as follows:
● Retirement Accounts: IRA’s, 401(k)’s or pensions, You probably listed beneficiaries on such accounts. Your spouse is probably the primary beneficiary, and you need to make sure you have a secondary beneficiary. That could be your children, a Trust or other relatives, or maybe a charity. You need to verify your named beneficiaries on a regular basis to make sure your funds will go where you want.
● Life Insurance: You more than likely have a named beneficiary on your life insurance policy, but you need to verify those beneficiaries to make sure they are correct.
● Bank Accounts-Investment Accounts: Your bank account/investment account may be joint tenancy with right of survivorship. If so that overrides your will, and whomever is joint on the account with you will inherit the entire account. Financial Institutions’ also permit Transfer on Death designations, where you can identify who gets the account when you pass. You can have more than one person designated.
● Real Estate: Your property could be joint with the right of survivorship, which results in the property transferring to the survivor. You can also designate your real estate to Transfer on Death to a named beneficiary. To be effective the Transfer on Death designation needs to be recorded or filed of record.
● Trusts: If your accounts or property is held by a Trust, or you designate the your Trust as the beneficiary, then your assets are distributed pursuant to the instructions contained in your Trust.
The Professionals at Clark & Lowe, LLC can help you understand the process of creating a Will, organizing how you want your assets distributed, or create a Trust.