Beneficiaries are on everything.
ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:
Assets with beneficiary designations typically avoid probate. Occasionally things go awry if a beneficiary predeceases you and alternates are not named. The account could end up going to a person you don’t want, a minor, or the deceased person’s probate estate. Owning property jointly with another is risky because the joint owner has total access to the account. This means that the joint owner’s creditors can reach your assets.
A will is also helpful for other reasons as well. You wishes on your burial can be spelled out in a will. Also, you do own other assets that aren’t in bank accounts. The will spells out who will inherit the tangible personal property. The executor is responsible for filing your last tax return and has the assets to pay it. If you use designations, the people in possession will be responsible for pay the tax. Each one is wholly liable for the tax, so if one beneficiary does not pay his or her share because they have spent the money, the IRS does not have to go after the person who spent the money. The IRS will go after the person with the deepest pockets.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
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The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.