Beneficiary Designations in Stuart Estate Planning

The allocation of assets after a person’s death requires examining not just a decedent’s will but also the effects of beneficiary designations on assets such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts. These accounts often have named beneficiaries that may or may not align with the provisions of a person’s will or trust.

Proper beneficiary designations in Stuart estate planning is an essential part of the process. A Stuart lawyer can help you choose beneficiaries, ensure that these people can properly inherit, and amend documents to meet your desires. With the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can make sure you create a plan that accurately reflects your wishes.

What it Means to be a Beneficiary and their Roles in Probate

In simple terms, a beneficiary is someone who stands to benefit when a document reaches maturity. In the context of estate planning, a beneficiary may be named in a will, in a trust, or on a designation form associated with a particular account. Beneficiaries typically do not need to do much to inherit their share of an estate and do not even need to know of the existence of the testamentary document prior to the decedent’s death.

Any interested person can ask a court to clarify their status as a beneficiary under Fla. Stat. §733.105. It is also not uncommon for named beneficiaries to dispute the role of other beneficiaries in the creation of wills. Many conflicts in probate court are due to unclear wills concerning beneficiaries or allegations of improper influence over an infirm testator. A Stuart lawyer can provide more information about what it means to be a beneficiary and the legal status associated with such.

Conflicting Documents in Stuart Estate Plans

However, naming a person as a beneficiary in a will or trust may not have the full effect that a testator desires. While a will does provide specific instructions as to what to do with one’s estate, the extent of a person’s holdings and financial interests may not end there. Many people have other forms of assets that are not covered in a will. Examples include:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Annuities
  • Retirement accounts, e.g. IRA’s and 401k’s
  • Savings bonds

These accounts often allow for the naming of a beneficiary. In many instances, people may also name alternate beneficiaries in case a beneficiary is deceased.

It is essential to name a beneficiary who has a legal ability to collect those assets. A prime example where complications may occur is naming a child as a beneficiary on a will without routing those assets through a trust. If the amount in question exceeds $15,000, a guardianship will likely be necessary; once the child reaches age 18, he or she will then inherit a lump sum outright. A Stuart lawyer can help to provide other alternative options that may produce a better result.

Beneficiary Designations in Stuart Estate Planning are Essential

Examining the status of beneficiaries on all accounts and assets is vital to proper estate planning. A Stuart estate attorney can provide essential guidance in locating these documents, taking the proper steps to change beneficiaries, and drafting new wills and trusts that reflect your wishes. Contact an estate attorney in Stuart to learn more about proper beneficiary nominations in estate planning.