You May Not Be Finished Updating Your Records.
At a recent meeting one of my clients brought me a copy of his and his wife’s newly updates wills. He wanted me to know that a few changes were made including what percentage of his estate goes to each of his children. In the previous will he left everything to his wife and if she predeceases him, 50% to each of his two children. The revision was that now 60% was going to one child and 40% to the other. I then asked him if he also wanted to update his IRA beneficiaries to reflect this change and he had a puzzled look on his face. “Didn’t that get changed when I updated my will?” was his response. The answer is no. In many cases there are two halves (or separate groups of assets) to be addressed.
The major asset groups are:
- Those that pass by will or “probate assets”
- Those that pass by beneficiary/trust or “non-probate assets”
Additionally, accounts held jointly with rights of survivorship generally pass to the other owner(s) at death and then may pass by will at the death of the final owner. Individual accounts with a transfer on death or ‘TOD’ registration generally passes the assets onto the named beneficiary or beneficiaries upon death of the account owner. Also note that assets titled in the name of a trust generally pass to the stated beneficiaries. You can learn more about titling assets here.
Common Assets (individually titled) That Pass By Will
- Bank Accounts
- Investment Accounts
- Real Estate
- Assets owned as tenants in common
Common Assets That Pass By Beneficiary/Trust
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- Retirement Accounts — 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, SEP-IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, deferred compensation
- Life Insurance Proceeds
- Assets held in trust
As you can see it’s very important to make sure you address all of your assets and where they are going!