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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Friday, April 22, 2022

Accidental Disinheritance

Creating a comprehensive estate plan is extremely important in order to ensure that your loved ones will receive that which you want them to. However, creating an estate plan often isn’t enough to guarantee this. You must also update your estate plan over time in order to make sure that the correct people are named. Otherwise, you may accidentally “disinherit” them.

Accidentally Disinheriting an Important Loved One

When you fail to update your estate plan, you may unintentionally be leaving things to your exes (ex-spouse, ex-partner, ex-step-child, etc.) or you may not have included other important individuals, such as children or grandchildren born after your estate plan was established. This is why it’s always important to update your estate plan after certain big life events, such as:

  • Birth of a child or grandchild
  • Divorce
  • Remarriage
  • Death of a beneficiary

State vs. Federal Law

Divorce is one of the biggest life events most often ignored when it comes to estate planning. Unfortunately, without updating an estate plan after a divorce, your ex-spouse may be legally entitled to your insurance policy proceeds or other assets – even if you’ve been divorced for decades. While many states have laws protecting subsequent spouses and commonly preventing this from occurring, there are still instances in which state regulations would not prevail.

For instance, federal laws generally override state laws. Therefore, it’s always in your best interest to regularly update your estate plan – especially after any big life event. Doing so also helps to prevent your intended beneficiaries from fighting for their inheritance in court, wasting both time and money.

Regularly Check on Certain Assets’ Designations

So, what assets should you be sure to stay on top of? Make sure that the following assets’ designations remain up-to-date to ensure your estate planning objectives are intact:

  • Bank & Brokerage Accounts
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Trusts
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Company Benefit Plans
  • 529 College Accounts
  • Transfer on Death Accounts

Understanding how to complete your beneficiary designations and how to amend them is extremely important. A qualified attorney can help.

Biddle Law Can Help

It can be scary to think about what may happen if you fail to update your assets’ designations. However, it is extremely important that you understand when and how to protect your interests and those of your loved ones. This is one part of a comprehensive estate plan that can make all the difference. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California estate planning attorney who knows the current laws and has experience dealing with such important estate planning documents.

At Biddle Law, we are here to answer all of your questions and walk you through the entire process. We care about you and your loved ones and want to help in any way we can. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!


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