Important Considerations for Estate Planning
Joseph G. Salpietro, ChFC®, AIF® XPYRIA Team Insights
XPYRIA is here to assist with any questions you may have and to advocate on your behalf regarding your estate planning needs.
- Make sure all accounts or assets owned have a designated beneficiary. Know that beneficiary designations supersede anything in a will that is contrary to these established designations.
- Accounts in joint names will be passed automatically to the surviving owner.
- Individual accounts that you wish to pass to specific individuals should have transfer on death (TOD) or pass on death (POD) beneficiaries listed on the account.
- Retirement accounts, insurance policies (life insurance and annuities) will be passed automatically to the designated primary beneficiaries. Contingent beneficiaries should also be named in the event a primary beneficiary predeceases or dies at the same time as you.
- Real estate owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship (JTWROS) or tenancy by the entirety will pass automatically to the joint owner.
- Have a WILL prepared if you want to be in control of who gets what after your death.
- Make sure that it is written in a manner consistent with your intentions, taking into consideration the beneficiary designations listed in point one above.
- This will include an official estate executor or personal representative.
- A valid will must be signed and dated by the owner and witnessed by two people.
- To die without a will is to die “intestate”. This means the courts, through a process called PROBATE, will decide how your assets are distributed and it may not work the way you imagined it would.
- For instance: Let’s say you are married and have $100k in the bank in your name alone. For the ease of this example, we will assume this is your entire estate. Some people might assume that their spouse will inherit these assets after their passing. In this example, if there are children involved, and through the process of “PA Intestate Succession rules” defined by the courts, the spouse will receive $65k and the remaining will be split equally between the children.
- The point being made here is that the court’s rules may not be congruent with your intentions, so you should create a will to ensure that your estate is distributed in a manner that is consistent with your intentions.
As described above, it is most important that you ensure that your beneficiary designations and that you have a will prepared to guarantee that your hard-earned assets are directed to your heirs as you intended.
**XPYRIA is not a tax or legal expert and does not profess expertise in the nuances of accounting or legal matters. One should always check with your trusted accounting and legal professionals on such matters.