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Mistakes in beneficiary designation can lead to probate


Growing old is inevitable, of course, and all people will reach that point eventually unless tragedy or illness intervenes. Residents in Chester, Pennsylvania, may have considered this fact and may have drafted an estate plan as a result. This is to ensure that when the time comes, their loved ones will remain financially secure. However, some of those estate plans, particularly those involving wills, may seem unfair or unclear to heirs, resulting in probate litigation will contests.

Designating a beneficiary is one of the most basic ways to keep an estate plan up to date and easy to interpret. However, it is also where errors of omission are most likely to occur and result in probate litigation. The following are some suggestions that readers may wish to consider to avoid probate and any consequent legal dispute associated with it.

The first mistake some people make is not naming a beneficiary. When there is no beneficiary designated, the estate can often become the beneficiary itself. This will cause the deceased person's relatives to lose the ability to retain a tax-advantaged status for the assets; usually, probate can no longer be avoided at this point.

Another major mistake is that most people do not list contingent beneficiaries or contemplate disclaimers. Spouses or partners are likely the common beneficiary for a lot of people. When those people die and there are no other beneficiaries listed, the situation can be compared to one in which no initial beneficiary has been designated. Funds are likely go into probate when both the testator and the primary beneficiary die and there are no other beneficiaries designated.

This information can show readers in Chester, Pennsylvania, how, under certain circumstances, heirs to a person's estate can be deprived of their rights due to technicalities or overlooked details. Readers can avoid these mistakes by having a properly drafted estate plan, including a thorough designation of beneficiaries. Since this is associated with meticulous paperwork and knowledge of all implications of a decision, it is often wise to receive the assistance of a legal professional.

Source: The Courier of Montgomery County, "Six costly beneficiary mistakes to avoid," Byron Ellis, Sep. 14, 2013

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