An effortless and straightforward way to plan for the passing of your estate is to use beneficiary designations. The problem is that beneficiary designations don't handle contingencies very well.
Contrary to popular opinion, your will doesn’t necessarily control how your assets pass at your death. You may hold most of your wealth in assets that pass outside of your will.
In Texas, co-owners of property can have a right of survivorship to the property they co-own. Co-ownership with the right of survivorship means that when one co-owner dies, the surviving co-owner becomes the sole owner of the property without the necessity of opening a probate estate. But, using this method of estate planning can cause unexpected tax and legal problems.
Mary’s estate consists of two significant assets, a life insurance policy and a traditional IRA. Both assets are equal in value. To simplify and equally distribute her assets, Mary names her son as the beneficiary of her life insurance and her daughter as the beneficiary of her IRA.
have seen a lot of poorly drafted estate plans. Inexperienced attorneys wrote some of those plans. Financial planners and CPAs even wrote some of them. With the proliferation of wrong information on the internet, I have seen more than a few poorly written do-it-yourself estate plans from forms found on the web. It isn't a good idea to find forms on the internet and then complete them by just typing your name in blank spaces. And, just because you pay for a form on the web doesn't mean you're getting something that fits your needs.
If you don't have an estate plan, Texas law has one for you. The state's plan determines who gets your property based on their relationship to you and the type of property you own.
Many parents with minor children have not acquired substantial assets, so they use life insurance to provide financial security for the children in case one or both parents die. If you name your minor children as beneficiaries and they are minors when you die, the insurance company cannot legally pay the life insurance proceeds directly to them. In this scenario, it will be necessary to ask a court to appoint an adult to manage the money for the children until they reach adulthood. You can avoid this situation by establishing a trust for the children and naming the trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance.
I discourage clients from planning their estates around specific assets. There may be a compelling reason to do it in rare instances, but in most cases, it can result in unintended consequences.
In another post, I talked about why a Will is not the best tool to address your concerns for quickly transferring your assets, keeping your estate private, or properly leaving money to minors. A Trust, however, does address these concerns. Here's how: Asset Management If you have heirs...
A Will is supposed to allow you to leave your property efficiently to your loved ones, but it rarely does that. Leaving property through a Will is like pouring a pitcher of water into cupped hands to take a drink. Most of the water spills onto the floor and disappears before you can use it properly.