Category Archives: Estate Planning

Estate Plan: What to do with a problematic in-law?

I see the impact of problematic in-laws on a weekly basis.

To be clear, I struck gold with my own in-laws.  They are extremely supportive and loving.  I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say the feelings are mutual.  One of the hardest things about social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is not being able to spend time together in person.  Thanksgiving and the rest of this holiday season are going to be particularly difficult.  

But not everyone has a great relationship with their in-laws.  In fact, based on what we see in our office, it is not uncommon for families to have at least one problematic in-law. Someone who is just out of sync with the rest of the family.  

Why does a problematic in-law impact your estate planing?

If you do not yet have an estate plan and you do not have a surviving spouse, Wisconsin law designates your children as the “natural objects of your bounty.” That means your child or children will inherit your estate.  When you have family harmony, this makes sense.  In fact, for those who have the foresight to make an estate plan, most leave their estate to their children (if there is no surviving spouse).  Many of us sacrifice a bit throughout our lifetimes with the hope of passing some inheritance to our children.  It is the natural order of things.

Some things are out of our control

And then your child goes off and marries someone you distain. Not someone who is a little annoying.  Someone who is simply awful, loathsome, and repulsive.  If your child inherits your estate, what happens if she predeceases you? Allows his spouse to consume the inheritance? What if she gets divorced?  

Problematic In-law
(Photo: Gillette Blog)

Part of growing up is allowing your child to make their own choices.  But our choices have consequences.  There are a few techniques you can use in your estate plan to address the problematic in-law.  This is not about teaching your child a lesson.  It is about protecting the inheritance.  

The most extreme option is to disinherit your child.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that one of your most important rights is the power to dispose of your property as you choose and, therefore, parents have no duty to leave their estate to their children.  Nonetheless, disinheriting a child can have significant emotional and financial consequences for your loved ones.  It can be emotionally painful for the child.  It can also deny your child funds that could provide additional financial stability.  Her siblings may feel guilty for inheriting their sibling’s share of the estate.  And it can lead to a court challenge and protracted litigation over the inheritance.  

You have options

In the alternative, you can work with your lawyer to decrease the likelihood that the problematic in-law receives anything from your estate.  The most common approach is to hold the funds in a trust for your child’s benefit and restrict the spouse’s access to the funds.  Then, if your child gets divorced, the assets are protected and preserved for your child.  And upon your child’s death, the funds can be directed to your child’s children (your grandchildren) or divided among your surviving children and/or charities.    

You can also skip a generation and gift the funds to your child’s children.  This is actually a common approach when a child predeceases – even when you like the in-law.  You can accomplish this through outright gifts to your grandchildren or holding the inheritance in a trust for their benefit until they are old enough to manage the funds responsibly.  

Your estate plan, or lack thereof, cannot be corrected after you die.  If you find yourself struggling with your child’s choice of spouse, you would benefit from a conversation with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning.  There may be a way to avoid or minimize conflict with a problematic in-law and maximize your child’s access to the inheritance.


Problematic In-Law Resources:

Blog: Wisconsin blended families & estate planning

by: Attorney Rebecca Mason

Blog: Dealing With Your Child’s Spouse

by: M.D. Jackson


Blog: 10 Tips for Dealing With In-Laws

by: Laurie E. Rozakis, PhD

Pumpkin Spice Estate Plan

New clients in the month of November receive a gift certificate to enjoy Wilson’s Coffee and Tea with your completed estate plan.

Bundled Estate Plan Gift Certificate:

Married Couples – $100
Single Individual – $50

Unbundled Estate Plans – $20

Rebecca Mason Law
Pumpkin Spice
Estate Plan

New clients in November receive a gift certificate to Wilson's Coffee and Tea with your completed estate plan

Bundled Plan Gift Certificate:
Married Couples - $100
Single Individual - $50

Unbundled Estate Plans - $20

Disclaimer:
 
*Contracts must have initial consultation in November and executed prior to 2021



*Contracts must have initial consultation in November and executed prior to 2021

Get Your Pumpkin Spice Estate Plan Started Today:


Online Resources:

Wilson’s Coffee & Tea

https://wilsonscoffee.com/

3306 Washington Ave.
Racine, WI 53405

Rebecca Mason Law

Estate Planning: https://rebeccamasonlaw.com/our-practice/estate-planning-estate-administration/
2020-11-30T14:57:00

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When you love someone with dementia

When you love someone with dementia, you lose the same person twice. 

As defined by the Mayo Clinic, Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and social abilities.  Several different diseases cause dementia  Alzheimer’s is one of the most common and well-known forms of dementia.

At Rebecca Mason Law, we counsel many clients through the heartbreaking process of losing a loved one to dementia.  It is one of the most difficult things a family can experience.

The early stages are some of the hardest as you watch your loved one’s memory fade in and out.  In the beginning, many struggle with knowing their memory is fading and that there is nothing they can do to stop it.  Some become belligerent and violent.  While others withdraw.

As dementia progresses, the brain slowly dies.  Many come to a point where they cannot recognize their loved ones. 

Rebecca Mason's Grandma had Dementia

My grandma suffered from dementia.  Near the end of her life, she had no idea who I was — but she could recite word for word the commencement speech she gave to her 8th grade class nearly 80 years prior.  She would ask me why her grandchildren never visited her.   

It is hard.  There is no fix and no easy way to get through Dementia.  You grieve when they forget who you are.  You grieve every time they don’t remember your face, every time you have to reintroduce yourself, every time have a conversation with your loved one about yourself as if you are not you.  And again when they physically die.

By Rebecca Mason


Dementia Resources Online:


Alzheimer’s Navigatorhttps://www.alzheimersnavigator.org/

Alzheimer’s Navigator helps guide Caregivers. You can create a personalized action plan and link to information, support and local resources.


Alz Connectedhttps://www.alzconnected.org/

Get connected to others impacted by Alzheimer’s or Dementia


Rebecca Mason Law Serviceshttps://rebeccamasonlaw.com

Planning To Ensure Your Independence this 4th of July

Jul 4, 2020 | Estate Planning, Rebecca Mason Law Blog

For the first time in 15yrs, we are not celebrating our independence by walking in the Racine 4th of July parade. We are all sad about this and it underscores the uncertainty of 2020.  

Mason Girls Celebrating Independence

As we consider Independence Day 2020, a lesson we can learn from this year is that the future is uncertain. How do we protect ourselves, our family, and our businesses from a sudden loss of autonomy? This year in particular, many of us have had to face this type of concern head on.  Is there a way to be more prepared? A durable power of attorney for can go a long way to help.

The durable power of attorney allows you to name someone who can make decisions for you if are unable. With the durable power of attorney for finances & property, your designated decision maker will have the authority to act on matters related to your finances and property on your behalf. For example, your agent will be able to pay your bills, manage your income and handle your affairs in the way you would want if you could not act independently.  For your health care power of attorney, your agent has the authority to work with your medical team to make decisions about your health care.

Through your estate plan, your chosen decision maker will be able to fulfill your wishes if you cannot act for yourself.

What makes a power of attorney durable?

When you are working with Rebecca Mason to create your estate plan, is durability important? The durability provision means that it is able to be used in the event of your incapacity. This is a critical aspect to your estate plan. While a power of attorney is a vital tool in all respects, you will need it most in the event you cannot make your own decisions.

Power of attorney documents are just one facet of your comprehensive Wisconsin estate plan.

Rebecca Mason Law Resources:

Do you want to discuss your independence?

Contact us anytime:

Witnesses to Wisconsin Estate Plans Must Be In Person

Wisconsin estate planning documents need to be properly witnessed.  Wisconsin law requires witnesses to be in the “conscious presence” of the person signing a will.  That has been interpreted to mean that witnesses must be present with the signer. Not observe the signing remotely through video conferencing.  For a document to be notarized, the person must “appear[] before” the notary.  This, too, has been interpreted to mean that a document must be notarized in person.

On March 18, 2020, (When Wisconsin was first seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases) the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions issued emergency guidance allowing some documents to be notarized remotely – but not for estate planning documents.  http://wdfi.org/Apostilles_Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/pdf/Emergency%20Guidance%20-%20Remote%20Notarization.pdf

Many states allow remote witnessing and notarizing of estate planning documents.  However Wisconsin does not currently.

Remote witnessing and notarizations would be helpful in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are being careful to limit in-person interactions.  However, information shared by social media and “do it yourself” estate planning websites, can be miss-leading as states have different rules. There is a high risk that people are getting bad information about how to properly execute their estate plan.  Even the local newspaper recently printed misinformation that courts will accept a will without witnesses – which just isn’t true. 

Even the local newspaper recently printed misinformation that courts will accept a will without witnesses – which just isn’t true.
Even the local newspaper recently printed misinformation that courts will accept a will without witnesses – which just isn’t true. 

It is critical to work with a legal professional in the state where you reside.  A Wisconsin resident could read this AARP article or the Journal Times article pictured above and use one of these do-it-yourself legal website or a template. As a result, the documents would not be valid without an appropriate witness/notary (Even with a remote witness).

With all this in mind, The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section filed an emergency request for a temporary order that would permit remote witnessing of certain estate planning documents in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Court declined to issue an emergency ruling.

https://www.wicourts.gov/news/docs/emergencyestateplanning.pdf

This is disappointing, but attorneys across Wisconsin will persist.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic first appeared in Wisconsin two months ago, lawyers across the state have been working hard to make sure our clients can safely execute their estate planning documents.

Due to safety concerns for our clients, Rebecca Mason Law is meeting by phone, FaceTime, and even Zoom.  We share drafts electronically.  We are conducting signings curbside outside our firm – or standing by the curb outside your home and observe you while you sign from the comfort of your own front porch. 


Resources:

WI Supreme Court Decision: https://www.wicourts.gov/news/docs/emergencyestateplanning.pdf

Guidance on Remote Notarization & Execution of Estate Planning: https://www.wisbar.org/NewsPublications/Pages/General-Article.aspx?ArticleID=27577

http://wdfi.org/Apostilles_Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/pdf/Emergency%20Guidance%20-%20Remote%20Notarization.pdf

The Syndicated Article the Journal Times ran (not posted online):
https://www.pressreader.com/usa/richmond-times-dispatch-weekend/20200426/283897345152851

AARP Article that incorrectly identifies Wisconsin as allowing remote Signing/Notarizing for Estate Planning documents: https://www.aarp.org/retirement/planning-for-retirement/info-2020/guide-to-virtual-wills-estate-plans.html?cmp=rebeccamasonlaw.com

RML Blog Post: https://rebeccamasonlaw.com/2019/03/10/estate-planning-gift-loved-ones/

SOCIAL DISTANCING In 2020

Pubs in Ireland closed two days before St. Patrick’s Day.  Schools and businesses across Wisconsin, the United States, and the world are closing.  Professional and college sports have been cancelled.  In Wisconsin, courts are closing until at least April 30 for many types of legal actions. While in situations like the grocery store, people are trying to impose some sort of social distancing protocol.

Now is not the time to panic.  But it is the time to prepare. We are facing an unprecedented situation. It is difficult to know what to do and hard not to feel at least a little scared.  The Coronavirus / COVID 19 seems to be taking over the entire globe at a rapid pace.

Estate Planning While Social Distancing

Many of us have a hard time sitting still in times of crisis.  We like to do something to make the situation a little bit better – for ourselves and for our community. 

As a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and probate, I strongly recommend the following to be better prepared while you are social distancing yourself from others.

Make sure you have a Health Care Power of Attorney that is ready to work for you. 

A Health Care Power of Attorney names a person who will advocate for your medical care if you become incapacitated. 

You have the right to decide the quality of life you want.  Your Health Care POA is the best way to direct your medical care if you are incapacitated.

If you have a Health Care POA, review it and make sure the person you name as your agent is ready, willing, and able to be your advocate.  Make sure you have a backup named who is also ready, willing, and able.  Upload it so you can access it on your phone.  Email it to your agents and your doctors.  Carry a note in your wallet with their contact information.

If you do not already have a Health Care Power of Attorney, I strongly recommend you contact an attorney who specializes in this area of law and schedule a phone appointment to get the process moving.  It is always better to work with a professional with experience in this area of law.  You will end up with a better product and ensure that it is executed correctly.  I have seen many power of attorney documents that were not properly executed – which becomes problematic if you are incapacitated and need someone to advocate for your care.

However, if you are not able to meet with an attorney or cannot afford one, and if are a Wisconsin resident, you can download a state form here: Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  I assume many other states have their own form.  In Wisconsin, your Health Care Power of Attorney needs to be witnessed by two people.  The witnesses must be over 18, neither can be your health care professional and neither can be named as your agent. 

Execute a Revocable Living Trust (a “Trust”). 

Having a Trust and avoiding the costly delay of a court-run probate just got a whole lot more important.  

As health professional instruct us to stay home as much as possible. We do not know how the court system is going to function over coming months.  If you are relying on a will (or don’t have an estate plan), your loved ones will likely have significant delay in accessing their inheritance as they wait for the courts to probate your estate.

In contrast, a Trust is a private contract between you and your loved ones.  When you pass, your Trust assets seamlessly pass to your loved ones without the hassle of the courts.  If you lose capacity, your successor trustee can step into your shoes and manage your financial affairs.  And while you are alive and have capacity, you retain full control over your Trust assets.

You need to work with a professional to create and fund your Trust to ensure that it is done correctly.  Too often I have clients come into my office thinking everything was handled because their deceased loved one had a Trust – only to find out that the assets were never put into the Trust and we have to go to court to probate the assets. 

Check your beneficiary designations. 

Financial assets and property can be transferred outside of probate through beneficiary designations.  You can name someone to inherit your life insurance policies, your retirement accounts, and your bank accounts.  You can also name someone to inherit your home and avoid probate of a significant asset.

Although beneficiary designations can be a good way to transfer wealth and avoid the uncertainty of the courts, there can be significant problems with relying on beneficiary designations.  The main problem with relying on beneficiary designations instead of a Trust is that they do not easily accommodate contingencies if a named beneficiary dies before you and your estate might end up in probate anyway. 

Many people are mistaken about who is actually named as their beneficiary.  Maybe you set up your retirement account when you first got your job and before you were married.  You could be disinheriting your spouse unintentionally.

Beneficiary designations are also difficult because the person inheriting has to know they are the beneficiary and what company to contact to obtain the funds. 

If you are relying on beneficiary designations, double check to make sure the right people are named.  It usually a simple process of calling the financial institution where your funds are held and asking them.  I recommend asking them to mail you a confirmation as well so that you can give a copy to your beneficiaries. 

Social Distancing: At least for the time being, life has changed significantly. 

While we make sure we have enough food and figure out how to exist while social distancing, we can also make sure that our estate is in order.  It seems that life is about to get a lot more difficult.  But you can take some action to make sure that if things get really bad, your medical wishes will be followed and your estate is kept out of probate.

Resources:

How Can Rebecca Mason Law Help?

Link: https://rebeccamasonlaw.com/2020/03/08/coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/

Google Partnership with the World Health Organization : https://www.google.com/search?q=coronavirus+tips&fbx=dothefive

Estate Planning: a Perfect Side Dish to Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving can be a happy time to visit with your friends and family. People often take this time to reflect on what you have to be thankful for and often that is your loved ones.

It is also a perfect time to talk about your estate plan. 

One of our clients started a tradition a few years back.  On Thanksgiving after the meal is eaten and before too many drinks have been consumed, he sits down with the son who will eventually take over as successor trustee.  He shows his son where he physically keeps his estate plan and other planning documents.  Walks him through where all the family assets are held.  He highlights what has changed over the previous year. 

If you are fortunate enough to enjoy spending time with your family, why, you ask, would you interrupt the joy by talking about your death?    

Why?  Because your estate plan is a gift to them.

Take the time to think about all of your investments, real estate, and accounts.  Contemplate all of your log-ins and passwords to your financials, your social media, and your digital libraries.   Consider your monthly and annual expenses.  Now imagine you are suddenly gone tomorrow.  Would your husband or wife know what to do?  Your daughter or life-long friend?

A friend was recently bemoaning the fact that her brother left no will and a mess that she now had to clean up without any idea as to what he wanted.  She is living the reality that your estate planning is – more than anything –  a gift to your loved ones.

When you fail to organize your documents and execute your estate plan, you are leaving your loved ones in quite a predicament.  We have opened probates that require us to call through every local bank and credit union trying to figure out where the deceased had accounts. We have had the surviving loved ones bring in boxes of financial documents not knowing whether their life insurance policies are still good, or whether retirement and investment accounts have been cashed out or rolled over into a different account. 

Tracking down assets can be time-consuming and expensive.  More importantly, you leave your loved ones with an ever-present uncertainty.  Did they find everything?  Are they wrapping up your affairs the way you wanted?

The Holiday Season is upon us.  When you gather, find a way to talk about your estate plan with your family.  If you don’t have your plan yet, you may be able to get one before the holidays if you act now.   It’s a good time to take the opportunity to start talking about how you want your things divided as a way to begin the process.


Resources:

Mass Mutual Blog Post: https://blog.massmutual.com/post/thanksgiving-estate-planning

Rebecca Mason Law Blog Post: https://rebeccamasonlaw.com/2019/03/10/estate-planning-gift-loved-ones/

You Can’t Take It With You! – A Halloween Candy Story.


After a night of trick or treating, our son consumes nearly all of his Halloween candy before we make it home.  If it were left up to him, he would eat the entire bucket that night. 

In contrast, one of our daughters will first organize her candy into chocolate, gummy, hard candy, etc.  She will then eat just a few pieces of her candy that night and limit herself to one piece of candy per day to make it last as long as possible. 

She certainly shows a great deal of self-control.

But at what cost? 

Inevitably, as the winter holidays approach, I will throw out a large amount of her old, now stale, Halloween candy to make room for the candy canes, peppermint kisses, and chocolate treats.  She ends up missing out on a good portion of her Halloween candy. 

Now, I am not advocating eating an entire bucket of candy in one day.  But perhaps living life to its fullest and enjoying what we have while it’s still good isn’t the worst approach. 

And given that this is now an annual occurrence, perhaps it makes sense for her to make a plan for that excess Halloween candy and give some away while it’s still fresh.

I met with a potential client at his home who was in the end stages of a terminal illness.  He was living at home with his sisters providing 24-hour care.  His mental capacity was slipping.  He had good days and not so good days.  He wanted me to draft a will that gave his estate to his sisters and their brother and to disinherit his children as they had been estranged for decades.   When I came back to his home to review his will, he was having one of his not so good days and was angry with his sisters because he didn’t want to eat his lunch and they were being pretty persistent that he needed to eat.  He decided that he was going to take his money, his boat, and his truck with him and not leave anything to his family.  I explained that he couldn’t take it with him when he passed.  He insisted he would find a way.

Needless to say, we did not execute a will that day. 

He passed a little while later without ever executing a will.  His estranged children will inherit everything.

None of us know when we are going to die.  But we do know that you can’t take it with you.  While we are here, we can live life to its fullest.  Maybe eat a few extra pieces of Halloween candy.  And if we are lucky enough have something left when we die, we can have a plan in place long before we lose the capacity to do so to make sure the transfer of wealth goes smoothly and according to our wishes.

Our own Halloween Candy – Rebecca Mason Law Resources:

https://rebeccamasonlaw.com/2019/03/10/estate-planning-gift-loved-ones/

Elder Law Attorney v. Internet

In the age of Pinterest boards, YouTube videos, and political Tweets a “do it yourself” mentality pervades our society. DIY can be a good route for home decor, it’s not always the best idea for estate planning. An experienced elder law attorney can help you put together an estate plan that works for you, your beneficiaries and your assets.

DIY estate plans can have catastrophic consequences.

A client hired our elder law firm to help with the probate of his dad’s estate.  Her father had remarried later in life after his kids were grown and his wife also had children from a prior marriage.  His wife passed first and left everything to dad.  Dad frequently discussed his intent for all their children – his and his wife’s – to inherit equal shares of his estate.  Dad prepared a will using an online legal service. 

The will was clear about how he wanted his estate distributed, however it was not signed in front of two witnesses.  A fatal flaw for a will in Wisconsin, and one an elder law firm would probably not make.  It therefore does not control the distribution of his estate’s assets.  Without a will, his children are entitled to inherit everything, cutting out his wife’s children.

Online Legal Services can Create Significant Problems. 

Another client came to us after her partner passed.  They had never married.  Her partner created a will using an online service to leave her everything and it was correctly executed.  Unfortunately, the forms were not completed correctly, with the beneficiary portion was left blank in the final version.  Without being named as a beneficiary, she was not entitled to any of the estate. Instead it was distributed to estranged relatives.

Hiring an Elder Law Attorney Is Less Expensive in the Long Run

For many, the biggest draw of DIY estate planning websites is the low cost. However, a DIY estate plan can ultimately be more expensive. Many elder law attorneys charge flat fees for estate plans, whereas legal services for a probate are billed hourly. If the DIY will fails or is contested, the costs will far exceed the costs of hiring a lawyer to draft your plan originally. 

Lawyers are Experts

elder law lawyers know how to handle the complicated situations that can arise in estate planning. Owning a business, marrying more than once, and having a disabled child are just a few examples of complexities in estate planning. Generic online forms are often not equipped for these issues. Working with an attorney guarantees that your loved ones will be taken care of, no matter how intricate your family tree. 

State Laws Matter

Estate planning is at the intersection of several areas of law. Estate planning involves dealing with real estate, taxes, and health care, among other things. As many have found out Laws also vary widely by state, which online estate planning tools don’t always account for properly. In order to make sure that your estate plan is valid and aligns with your wishes, it’s important to work with an experienced elder law attorney in your state. 

Maximize Value

Beyond ensuring that your estate plan is valid, elder law attorneys can help you maximize the value of your estate. After learning more about the contents of your estate, your attorney can help determine exactly which documents you need and how you can avoid unnecessary taxes. 

An elder law attorney can work with you to identify your goals for your estate and make them a reality.


Resources:

Check out some relevant articles:

Forbes Articles:

Is Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning a Valid Option?

The Case Against Do-It-Yourself Wills

Rebecca Mason Law Blog Posts:

National Health Decision Day

Estate Planning: A gift for your loved ones

When Beneficiary Designations Fail

Beneficiary designations are an efficient and effective way to transfer your inheritance to your loved ones without them having to go through a costly and lengthy probate.  In many cases, it is relatively simple.

As an example, let’s imagine our client, Sue, is a widow with two adult children. Sue wants them to inherit her estate in equal shares. She names her son and daughter each as a 50% beneficiary on her:

  • Money Market accounts
  • Certificate of deposits (CDs)
  • Savings Account

After Sue passes, her children complete a request to the bank for the distribution and submits the request with a copy of her death certificate. Both children receive their 50% share of the Money Market, CDs, and savings account within weeks.

Although this process can work well, it is risky to have beneficiary designations serve as your only means of estate planning.  You should always couple this with a Will or a Trust.  This is because there is potential for beneficiary designations to fail, resulting in your estate plan not meeting your goals.  Two of the most common ways beneficiary designations fail are: (1) you are mistaken in who you believe you named as a beneficiary; and, (2) the person you named dies before you.

The first problem has an easy fix

You can contact each of the financial institutions that hold your assets and ask them to mail you a document confirming who you have named.  Usually this request can be made by phone.  You may also be able to log in to an account online and obtain this information electronically.

Let’s assume Sue is recently a widow and thought she and her late husband had named their two children as contingent beneficiaries. Following her attorney’s advice, she calls her bank and discovers that she, in fact, has no beneficiaries named. They mail her a form to name her children. She completes it and brings it into her local branch. First problem solved.

The second problem can be more complicated

Each financial institution (your bank, credit union, etc.) has their own policy on what happens if your named beneficiary predeceases you.  Common ways financial institutions address predeceased beneficiaries are that their share passes instead:

  • To the other people you named who survive you; or,
  • To your estate – resulting in the need for a probate. 
Beneficiaries

In addition, although some financial institutions allow you to name contingent beneficiaries, not all financial institutions treat contingencies the same.  The two common ways contingent beneficiaries are treated by financial institutions include:

Turning back to Sue: now assume Sue’s son tragically predeceases her. After Sue passes, her daughter contacts the bank and is told that under their policy, because a named beneficiary predeceased Sue, his share must be paid out to Sue’s estate. As a result her daughter inherits her half outside of probate, but the other half must now go through the lengthy and costly probate process. Because Sue’s will divides her estate assets between her son and daughter, her daughter will also inherit half of the probate assets. The other half will go to her son’s children. This was not what Sue wanted. She intended for her son’s children to inherit his full half of the estate assets.

As you can see, some of the policies of the financial institutions may align with your estate planning goals.  But there may also be unintended consequences that significantly alter your plan. The only way to know how each of your financial institutions will handle a predeceased designee, however, is to contact them and ask them to provide their policy on contingent and/or predeceased beneficiaries.  It is essential to with an estate planning professional to ensure that your beneficiary designations compliment your estate planning goals.


Resources:

Johnson Bank – 6 Estate Planning Steps to Take Now

https://www.johnsonbank.com/Resources/Articles/2014-06-18-Estate-Planning-Steps-to-Take-Now

Rebecca Mason Blog Posts