Will or Title: Which Wins?


By Rollyn H. Samp

The procrastination of writing a will ends with purchase of a TV will kit and filling in the blanks.  Simple and done.

But is your “will” really your will?

Have you made provision for distribution of your personal effects / family memorabilia or did you want to leave a family feud as part of your legacy?

Did you make provisions for a final gift to your favorite charity or religious organization?

If you have a “special needs child”, did anyone discuss how to legally use a “Hamilton Trust” to preserve disability benefits and allow for life enhancement funds from any inheritance?

And what about your grown child with a shaky marriage and increasing creditor problems?  Did anyone discuss how to protect inheritance by a Spendthrift Trust and its accompanying protection?

These are only a sampling of issues for a well crafted estate plan.

Few laymen know that how property is titled trumps how property is gifted in a will or improperly drafted trust.

For example, if a will designates all real property go to several persons but the title reads “joint tendency with right of survivor”, the property will pass by title rather than will.

Beneficiaries of IRAs, annuities, securities, 401k and life insurance all go to a named beneficiary rather than how a will might designate distribution of these assets.

Discussing your actual intention in estate planning, with financial planners, CPAs, insurance agents and attorneys, may make sure that your “will” truly reflects your will.

LessonTitle trumps will provisions.

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