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Why It is Important to Name Alternative Beneficiaries in Your Will

Posted by Chris Peterson | Aug 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Why It is Important to Name Alternative Beneficiaries in Your Will

Why It is Important to Name Alternative Beneficiaries in Your WillAn estate plan is not a success if a person's assets do not pass to those who are intended to inherit them. Many things can happen after you write your will, and if you don't either keep the will current with changes or provide alternative beneficiaries, your wishes may not be carried out. Your Kingwood  estate planning attorney will help you put together a will that avoids such an outcome.

Naming First and Second Level Beneficiaries

Naturally you hope that your children and other loved ones to whom you want to leave your estate will outlive you, but there is never a guarantee that this will happen. While no one wants to ponder such a possibility, a child may die before you, and it is better to deal with this now than leave it to a probate court.

It is important, then, to name not only first-level beneficiaries, but second-level ones as well. Consider this scenario: Suppose you have four children, all of whom have grown up, married, and had children of their own. In your will you specify that a certain sum of money is to go to each of the four children. What happens if one of your children dies? Will the money intended for that child be divided between the remaining three, or will it be given to your late child's spouse and/or children? Unless you specify a second-level beneficiary, the court is not going to know which is your preference.

When No Alternative Beneficiary Is Named

If you do not include alternate beneficiaries in your will and one of more of those named dies before you, that portion of your will is considered to have failed or lapsed. Texas does have a so-called anti-lapse law. This law allows the probate judge to make an educated guess as to what your wishes likely would have been for the distribution of the assets in question.

In essence, then, that portion of the will is handled as though you died intestate, or without a will. It is very possible that the court will make the correct assumption about your wishes, but it may not. Also, this anti-lapse law applies only for close relatives and children. If you have a spouse who has children from another marriage, you may wish for money that would have gone to her to be left to her children should she die before you. However, under the anti-lapse law, this will not likely occur. Rather, the assets in question will go to a blood relative.

Make Sure Your Estate Plan Is Up to Date

It is very important that you review your estate plan occasionally to make sure that it currently reflects your wishes. Your Kingwood  estate planning attorney can work with you to develop a plan that will help avoid problems as discussed above. Call Peterson Law Group today to arrange a consultation at 281-609-0664 or 832-786-5062.

About the Author

Chris Peterson

Founding Attorney Chris Peterson is the owner of Peterson Law Group. He practices primarily in the areas of wills, trusts and estate planning; probate and trust administration; elder law; and business law. In addition to the law practice, Chris is involved in Aggieland Title Company and Brazos 1...

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