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Why Didn't My Will Work?

May 03, 20232 min read

Have you ever heard of a situation where someone left a Will dividing their estate equally among their children but one of the children ended up with most of the assets?

How did it happen?  Your Will said to divide the assets equally. Unfortunately, your Will only governs the assets that it captures. Assets that are in joint ownership, or have a payable on death or beneficiary designation payable to someone other than the deceased’s estate, bypass the instructions in your Will. Many people assume they know how their accounts are titled and who they have designated as beneficiaries.  Quite often they are mistaken, and the family is shocked after death to learn that the assets are not being divided as planned. Then the fight breaks out over what you actually intended to do!

Some make a child co-owner or beneficiary because they are the executor named under their Will, but when they do, that child is entitled to keep the assets. And they usually do! Even if they trusted them to divide them among the rest of their children.

The problem also arises if you have minor children. Young parents often put a Will in place which creates a trust to take care of their minor children until they become adults. They then name their children as the beneficiaries of their accounts and life insurance should they both die. Upon death, the Court must appoint a Conservator for the children because the assets bypassed the trust created under their Will and went directly to the children who are too young to legally own the assets.

Ask yourself, "Are my assets titled correctly so my estate planning instructions will control where the assets end up?"

This is one of many important considerations when planning your estate. If you would like to learn more about an estate planning process that is producing great results for families, visit to sign up for a complimentary educational workshop.

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