What Happens If a Will Beneficiary Dies?

living trust

When you are planning your estate, you should thoroughly think everything through, because events do not always fall into place as expected. We will look at one of these unexpected circumstances in this post, and we will provide a solution.

Deceased Beneficiary

When you are drawing up a will, you can include a survivorship clause. This would state that the beneficiaries receive inheritances if they live for a certain period of time after your passing.

Why would someone want to include this type of clause?

Let’s say that you are leaving an inheritance to your daughter, and you do not particularly like her husband. If she was deceased, you would want the entirety of your estate to go to your other two children. Under these circumstances, you could include a survivorship clause.

The period of time is typically between five and 60 days. If your daughter was to pass away before the survivorship period elapses, the inheritance would be split between your two surviving children.

To avoid unwanted outcomes, you can name contingency beneficiaries when you are drawing up your will to cover your bases if something happens to any of the beneficiaries.

Living Trust

A will is admitted to probate, which is a court proceeding. If you use a living trust as an alternative, the trustee that you name in the document would administer the trust after your passing. The probate court would not be involved, and this is a major positive.

Probate is a public proceeding, so anyone that is interested can access the records to find out how the assets were distributed. This can cause acrimony among interested parties, and there is a general loss of privacy that no one would welcome.

You can clearly state your wishes with regard to contingencies when you are drawing up the trust declaration. The trustee would have a fiduciary duty to follow your instructions to the letter, so you can be absolutely certain that your assets are distributed in accordance with your true wishes.

It is worthwhile to note that probate is a time-consuming process that will take eight months or longer depending on the relative complexity of the case in question. No inheritances are distributed during this interim, so the process is more streamlined when you use a living trust.

Expenses are another consideration. There is a filing fee with the court, and there are legal and accounting charges in many cases. When you add in appraisal and liquidation expenses, a noticeable portion of the estate can be consumed during probate.

If you value control and predictability, a living trust is a better choice than a simple will, and there are other benefits that we will get into in a future blog post.

Attend a Complimentary Seminar!

We know that people have a lot of questions about the estate planning process, and as a response, we conduct seminars to provide access to information. They are held at comfortable, convenient locations, and we get very positive feedback from attendees.

There is no charge to attend our seminars, so this is a great way to make an initial connection with our firm, and you will walk away with a lot of useful knowledge. You can see the dates if you head over to our seminar page, and if you decide to join us, follow the instructions to register.

Need Help Now?

If you have already decided that you should work with a Glastonbury, CT estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, we are here to help.

When you work with our firm, we will answer all of your questions and make recommendations. At the end of the process, you will emerge with a custom crafted plan that ideally suits your needs. As time goes on, we will be available to make revisions when necessary.

You can call us at 860-548-1000 to schedule a consultation appointment, and if you would rather reach out electronically, fill out our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.

Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney
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