without a will

Many believe that having a Will is the only way to carry out their wishes as to who gets what. For some things, like a deed to your home which you own in your name alone, that’s true. You need a will or trust to name a beneficiary, in a legally binding way.

But for many other types of property, there are built-in instructions as to who will get it next. Consider the following examples:

• Trusts provide instructions as to where assets go when you die.
• With life insurance policies, you can name beneficiaries to inherit.
• With real estate or other jointly owned accounts, co-owners can inherit from a survivor, or not, depending on how the title is taken. If there is a right of survivorship, the survivor inherits it all. If co-owners own property as tenants-in-common, each owns 50%. The survivor doesn’t take all, so a Will is needed to name who inherits the other 50%.
• Transfer on Death or TOD accounts name a beneficiary to inherit upon the death of an owner.
• Qualified retirement benefits must pass via a joint and survivor annuity, to the surviving spouse. If a retiree wants another form of payment, like a lump sum, the spouse must okay the distribution.
• IRA accounts should name beneficiaries to maximize tax deferral.

If your accounts aren’t jointly owned, and/or you don’t name beneficiaries, you need a Will or a trust to make sure these assets end up in the right hands.

Susan G. Parker, Esq.

Susan G. Parker, Esq.

Susan G. Parker specializes in estate planning, probate, elder law and business planning. She is licensed to practice law in NY and Florida and maintains a practice in Briarcliff Manor. Shehas authored four books on elder law and estate planning.520 N. State Rd. -Suite 301A, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510; 914-923-1600; susan@susanparkerlaw.com
Susan G. Parker, Esq.

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