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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Asset Titles May Impact your Legal Documents

We are always reminding people of the importance of having an up-to-date Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will and the rest. But that may only be step one in the process of making sure your documents are in order.

The next step is to examine your assets to see how they are titled. You need to also examine your beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement funds. Until you do that, your estate plan is not complete. The result could be having your assets directed in a far different manner than you planned.

While many people believe if they have a will they are done, that’s far from the case. Probate assets are distributed under the terms of the will. Non-probate assets such as IRAs or beneficiary designations on life insurance policies do not.

In fact, studies show that more than half of all assets in the U.S. do not fall under a will. Beneficiary designations take precedence over a will. So while you may decide to name someone in the will to inherit your life insurance benefits, if they are not the person named on the policy, there will be problems.

This can be even more complicated for seniors who have lost a spouse and are adding the names of children to policies.

Clearly these are extremely complicated issues. So even if you have a will and other documents, it is best to have an estate planning attorney review everything.


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