What happens if you leave your estate to a person who dies shortly after you? The short answer is that your estate will pass to whoever that person designated as his/her beneficiaries. For example, if you leave your estate to your second spouse and nothing to your children, but she dies 2 months after you pass leaving a Will designating her children from a previous marriage as her beneficiaries, your children will receive nothing. This clearly is not what you would’ve intended to happen.
Some Wills include a survivorship clause, which recites that there must be a 90-day waiting period before distribution can occur to the heir. Additionally, it is important to consider the relationship with the named beneficiary. In the example of a second marriage where both spouses have children from previous marriages, it may be wise to include a contingency that if the primary beneficiary does not survive you be an allotted amount of time, then the remainder of your estate will pass to secondary beneficiaries (children, friends, charities).
In sum, when you are designating beneficiaries, it is important to ask the “what if” questions. Additionally, if you have not updated your current estate planning documents recently, it is important to review the status of your beneficiaries and who would inherit your estate. If you need assistance with creating or revising your estate plan, contact The Curran Law Firm to schedule an appointment. You have worked hard to build your estate, so take the time to insure that your assets are passed to your intended beneficiaries.