Writing a Last Will and Testament is the foundation of your estate plan. Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney are two other important pieces to the plan, but these three may not include everything you need. Estate plans can be as customized as a client needs or wants.
A word of caution – when designing your estate plan, don’t overlook the fact that some of your assets may not be covered by the provisions of your will. You will need to work through these details with your estate planning attorney, tax accountant and financial advisor.
Assets that are not typically affected by wills include:
Annuities (which are a form of life insurance)
Retirement Plans or Pensions
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
The distribution of these assets after death is most often determined by beneficiary designation forms completed during the application process of establishing these contracts or accounts. Your will does not control how those benefits are paid unless your beneficiary designations specifically refer to your will and it contains the appropriate terminology.
Beneficiary designations allow assets to pass directly to whomever you designate thus by-passing the probate process.
It is obviously important to keep your beneficiary designations current. There may be times when naming individuals as beneficiaries is not appropriate or strategic. An example of this may be if you have a special needs child or a spouse or family member in a nursing facility. Always, discuss these matters with your estate planning attorney as they can provide the best guidance based on your personal situation.
If it is time to revisit your estate plans and discuss beneficiary designations, contact us (link to contact us page) or call 336.725.8366 (link to call feature). We will be glad to schedule a convenient time to meet with you and discuss your estate plan and beneficiary designations.