Common Estate Planning Mistake #1: Failing to appreciate how assets pass upon death

In the first of this Common Estate Planning Mistakes series, Wes Coulson disusses the common mistake people make in  failing to appreciate how assets pass upon death.

Common Estate Planning Mistake #1: Failing to appreciate how assets pass upon death


Hi, I’m Wes Coulson and this is your Estate Planning Minute. This is going to be part of our series on Common Estate Planning Mistakes that people make.

One of those is failing to appreciate how and why assets pass upon your death. A lot of people think if I have a Will or a Living Trust that says how my assets are going to pass, that it’s going to apply to everything. That’s not the case. If you own something in joint tenancy, it’s going to automatically go to the other joint tenant. If it’s an IRA or an insurance policy, it’s going to go to the person that you’ve named as beneficiary. If you have a “pay on death” (or  POD) or “transfer on death” (TOD) designation, it’s going to control. The reason that that’s important is a lot of people have estate plans in place that when you sit down with them and look at all that stuff  and say, “Here’s how your estate’s going to be distributed when you die.” They’ll say, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize that. That’s not even close to what I want.” So, estate planning is more than a process of drafting documents, it’s looking at everything to make sure that, with all legal considerations noted, that your estate is going to pass when you die, the way you want it to pass. Thanks.

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