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This mistake could complicate estate administration and probate

Many Georgia residents feel relief once they execute a plan to care for loved ones after they pass away. However, the work is not always done once the documents are signed. In order to ensure that an individual's wishes will be appropriately carried out, it might be necessary to take additional steps. Otherwise, a smooth estate administration and probate could turn into a complicated mess.

For example, when a woman was diagnosed with cancer, she and her second husband went to an attorney to set up an estate plan. As part of that plan, her estate was to be divided equally between her husband and her two children from a previous marriage. Once the documents were signed, they believed that everything was in place to make that happen.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the woman's estate was in her 401(K) through her employment. Who receives the funds in these accounts is controlled by a beneficiary designation that overrides the provisions of a will and/or trust. This woman's beneficiary was her current husband, so when she died, her children were not legally entitled to any of the funds. Fortunately, her husband carried out his wife's wishes, but not everyone would be so generous.

Any estate planning is not complete until beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies and any other asset that is governed by these forms are brought into line with the will and/or trust. Otherwise, the estate administration and probate process could end up being disappointing for beneficiaries who believed they would receive an inheritance. The importance of following through when creating an estate plan cannot be stressed enough. To make sure that you take care of everything, it might be beneficial to work with a Georgia estate planning attorney.

Source: MarketWatch, "Hidden estate planning mistakes that have horrible consequences", Dana Anspach, March 6, 2017

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