The way you title your real and personal property and who you name as your beneficiaries is just as important in your estate planning as your Will or Trust, says The Black Hills Pioneer’s recent article, “Titling of property is just as important as your Will or Trust.”
There are some kinds of property that, depending on how they’re titled or who’s the named beneficiary, will flow outside your Will or Trust.
For instance, if you designate a beneficiary on your life insurance policy or on your retirement account, that money goes directly to the named beneficiary at your death—not in accordance with your Will or Trust (provided you haven’t named your estate or Trust as the beneficiary).
In addition, you could designate another person as payable on death (POD) designee or transfer on death (TOD) designee on your investment account or your bank account. These types of accounts also transfer automatically to the named designee and not with any regard to your Will or Trust (unless you named your estate or Trust as the designee).
Jointly owned real estate, bank accounts, or investment accounts will typically flow to the surviving joint owner, not pursuant to your Will or Trust. However, the fact that two people own one piece of real estate doesn’t mean the property will flow automatically to the survivor. It depends on how the property is titled. For example, in many states, language needs to be included in the deed conveying that real estate to both individuals as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship.”
So, you can see how critical it is that you discuss these issues with your estate planning attorney. In addition to questions about Wills and Trusts, you should also be discussing the titling of your property and the beneficiaries you’ve named on your life insurance and retirement accounts, along with any POD and TOD designees you’ve named on your investment accounts or bank accounts.
If you don’t, you could create unintended consequences for your loved ones.
Reference: Black Hills Pioneer (August 5, 2019) “Titling of property is just as important as your Will or Trust”