|In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson explains how many people think that Changing Your Will beneficiaries, will change the beneficiaries of their estate, but that’s not quite how it works.|
Greetings! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent Coulson Elder Law, and this will be your Elder Law minute. We’re happy to present these because we think we can help inform you, as to the ways in which we can help you, and the things that you need to think about, relative to the elder care and estate planning journey. Hope you enjoy!
Does Changing Your Will, Change Your Estate Plan?
Not unfrequently we will have people call or come in and say, “You know what, I need to have you help me, some things have changed in the family” or “I’ve changed my mind, I need you to help me change my will”. One of the things that I’m always careful to tell them is that, changing your will for most people isn’t enough to change your estate plan. Now why is that? Well, its because a will only changes thing that don’t have any other thing that’s going to say who gets it when you die. So if you have any accounts that are set up as joint tenancy, for instance with somebody else, even if you change your will, whoever is on that as joint tenancy is going to get it. Same thing with ‘pay on death’ or ‘transfer on death’ designations on bank and financial accounts, IRAs, life insurance policies, annuities, all of those have beneficiary designations, and those beneficiary designations control over the terms of your will.
Now let me give you a bit of advice here, because what I’ve kind of told you is that if you want to change your estate plan, it may be that you have a lot of different things to play and that gets to be a very uncertain process, you might not change everything that you intended to change. A good way of fixing that is to have a living trust, and have assets in your living trust or the living trust named as beneficiary. Here’s what that does for you; if you change the terms of your living trust, you just in one fell swoop changed everything. That’s one of the reasons that we’re big fans of living trusts.
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.