Many people are concerned, and rightly so, that whatever assets they have, end up going to the people or organizations they eventually want to get them. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
Assets can pass in a number of ways. If you have a Will, assets that you die with in your name alone will pass according to the dictates of your Will. Wills are often made many years before and left sitting in a drawer until they are eventually needed. In the interim, Will beneficiaries, executors (Personal Representatives), trustees, etc., may have died or your feelings about them may have changed. Thus, your assets may be distributed in ways or to people you didn’t intend. Review your Will every 3-5 years to make sure whatever assets you have left in your estate go where you want them to. In addition, if you have no Will, the State will determine who gets whatever assets that you die with in your name alone (by a next of kin formula).
Similarly, assets you leave that don’t pass by Will, such as IRA’s and life insurance proceeds, may have named beneficiaries who are deceased or fallen out of favor. Or a beneficiary may never have been designated causing such assets to fall back into your Probate estate. Review such policies to make sure you have the beneficiaries you want.
Roger Levine is an Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney with offices in Canton & Brockton Massachusetts.