Here is a common estate-planning question that we get asked rather frequently:
Is it truly necessary for us to have wills? My spouse and I own our home, cars, and bank and investment accounts in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and we have named each other as beneficiaries of our respective life insurance policies and retirement funds.
The answer is: Yes, you still need a will!
The couple asking this question is correct that all of the things mentioned would not be governed by a will. Property owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship automatically passes to the surviving spouse, and insurance proceeds and retirement funds are paid directly to the named beneficiary. Nevertheless, everyone should have a will for the following six reasons:
Signing beneficiary forms and owning property jointly with right of survivorship are great ways to transfer property with minimal cost and without delays of probate proceedings, but they are not a substitute for a will. Please contact us for information about the various considerations when drafting your will.
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