Proper planning prevents problems. That’s what my Dad always said, and my Dad was right. One issue that we have seen repeated for over 30 years needs to be addressed, and that is property or assets held by financial institutions.
Certainly, a Will reflects the final wishes of a person made when they were living. It’s easy to think in terms of dividing property between spouses and children. Things become a little more complicated when we want to give a specific gift, such as a ring, but again that’s still not that difficult. We all know and agree that a Will saves your family a lot of money and a lot of time. A Will makes things easy.
What people don’t generally realize, is that many different types of assets are not controlled by the terms of a Will.
If you want all of your monetary assets to be divided equally between your children and you put that in your Will, that’s fine. However, what often happens is that a parent will put one child on an account, and the account will say that the survivor gets the account. The people at the bank don’t explain that to you, but it’s always in the fine print because they will not be drug into an argument about whose money it is. The fact is, you’ve really given the money in that account to the one child on the account. Most of the time children know the intent of their parents and do the right thing, but when they don’t, it causes hard feelings.
Life Insurance policies will have a beneficiary. If your main asset is a policy of insurance, whoever you name as the beneficiary receives the insurance proceeds. Those proceeds will not be divided according to the terms of your Will. You can make a policy of insurance payable to your estate and then it is divided according to the terms of the Will, but only if you name your estate as the beneficiary.
The point is that when you think about dividing your property, proper planning for those assets held by banks and insurance companies require separate and proper planning.
Buckle up, wash your hands, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!