So you’ve made a Will (or maybe not). But once you do, all of your property and assets, which you might have upon your death, should be taken care of now, right? Not so fast. This issue arises in our line of business more often than not. If you believe once you have a Will put in place, nothing else needs to be done in order to have your possessions distributed to your spouse, your children, that special niece or nephew, or other beneficiary named in your Will, you are not alone, but also not exactly correct either.
Some assets that you will want to pay special attention to are assets that are held jointly by you and another person (e.g. bank accounts, real property) or anything that can be beneficiary designated. Such as:
- Pension plans
- Employee benefits
Upon your death, items held jointly by you and another person with rights of survivorship will automatically be absorbed, if you will, into the surviving joint owner, and not controlled by the terms and conditions of your Will.
Additionally, anything that can be beneficiary designated will be distributed as such. These assets are often forgotten, but will nevertheless, go to the persons who have been designated to take upon your death. In order to change these designations, you will need to contact your financial advisor or the institutions which hold these assets in order to update your beneficiary designations as needed. At NC Planning, we assist clients with this step by keeping their financial advisors in the loop regarding these types of changes.
It is not necessarily a negative that these assets may or may not be controlled by your Will but can be helpful in that once a joint owner or beneficiary designation is made, you can have peace of mind that this particular asset will not have to go through probate. Additionally, you can always designate one of these assets to be distributed to your estate (or Trust, if you have one). However, it is always good to review who these beneficiaries might be, and update as life and circumstances change.