What Does It Mean to Be an Estate Beneficiary?
What does it mean to be named as an estate beneficiary? Learn more to feel confident when you choose your beneficiary.
When Larry King passed away on January 23, 2021, at the ripe old age of 87, he left behind a multi-million dollar estate, an (almost) ex-wife, three living children, and a massive estate of confusion and chaos. Why? Because instead of working with his estate attorney to draft an updated a Last Will and Testament, he left behind a handwritten note meaning to do the same.
As you can see, naming an estate beneficiary isn't as simple as slapping your signature on a document. It takes one ambiguity in phrasing to make your plan go awry, and this will occur in your absence when you can no longer set things right.
If you're interested in learning more about what it means to be an estate beneficiary, then this is the guide for you. Continue reading to become more familiar with the beneficiary process and how to make your choice.
What Is an Estate Beneficiary and Why Is One Necessary?
An estate beneficiary is who you elect to receive all, or just a portion, of your property and assets. You can have one or many beneficiaries.
However, to fully understand what an estate beneficiary is, you must also define estate. In this case, your estate refers to the monetary value of the entirety of your assets. These may include any property you own, the value of your investment accounts, and personal possessions like furnishings or collectibles.
Of course, this list is not inclusive of all possibilities. Many other things make up an individual's estate, with every estate being slightly different. For example, family heirlooms are a part of one's estate for simply sentimental value.
In these emotionally charged cases, there is sure to be disagreement amongst those you leave behind because equity is in the eye of the beholder.
Instead, by having a plan in place that names your beneficiaries, you can avoid stress and confusion in your absence. In fact, your estate plan can prevent your heirs from having to go through a lengthy probate process. There are strategies that can be put in place to avoid probate completely, and minimize stress between family members.
If you are especially keen on your loved ones avoiding time-consuming and public probate, you should consider talking to a lawyer to find the best option for you. A Living Trust is a strategy that a lot of lawyers like to use. However, there is much more involved in the process, and without legal expertise, a lot can be left out, nulling your intent of privacy and ease. You can find more about this in the Phoenix area by searching for "living trust in Chandler".
Lastly, having a plan ensures that your wishes are carried out exactingly.
How to Choose a Beneficiary
Your beneficiary could be a person, or persons, another estate, or even a charity or non-profit. Remember, who you elect does not have to be related to you in any way.
When deciding how to allocate your assets, keep in mind the following;
- The legacy you wish to leave behind.
- Whether any relatives depend on you financially or with whom you have an obligation.
- Any relationships you want to acknowledge at your passing.
- If one of your beneficiaries is considered a minor, you should appoint a financial guardian or set up a trust that becomes available when they reach majority age. In Arizona, this means 18 years of age or older.
- Are there any special situations that you need to consider like Special Needs kids or substance abuse.
Ensure Thoroughness With an Estate Planning Attorney
No estate is trivial and none too small to leave to an unknown fate. Unfortunately, over half of the American population doesn't have a Will, and when they die, their families will be left trying to sort through their affairs. However, such as in the case of Mr. King, even an iron-clad Will can end up in turmoil if an estate planning attorney does not adequately review it.
At Citadel Law Firm, we are experts in Wills, livings trusts, and estate planning in Chandler, Arizona and the whole of the Phoenix East Valley. When you're ready, contact us to schedule a free consultation, click here or call (480)565-8020. Our estate planning attorney will be pleased to help you.