What is a beneficiary?
A beneficiary is an individual that you name in your will or trust to receive property from your estate when you die. You can name a beneficiary to inherit any assets in your estate. This can include real estate, financial accounts, and more.
What happens to a will or trust when a beneficiary dies?
The person who established the trust or will is required to amend their estate plan when the beneficiary of a trust or will passes away. If the beneficiary of a trust or will dies, the estate plan will still be in effect. However, it will be modified.
When a will or trust is created, there are two paths for their inheritance to take when naming beneficiaries for an estate plan. These paths will consider the possibility of the beneficiary predeceasing the person who is creating the estate plan.
The first path is to say the beneficiary’s inheritance “lapses.” If the beneficiary passes away prior to the creator of the estate plan, this beneficiary’s inheritance is no longer in effect.
The second path is to name beneficiaries for an estate plan as their inheritance passes “per stirpes” which means “by branch.” If a beneficiary dies before the creator of the estate plan, their share of the estate will go to their descendants evenly. Each named, living beneficiary will receive the deceased’s original portion of the estate. If the beneficiary has no children in an estate plan that utilizes per stirpes language, the inheritance will go as if it has lapsed.
To best way to take action when a beneficiary passes away before the individual who created the estate plan is to amend the estate plan.
To learn more about what you can do to create a comprehensive estate plan, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced Des Moines estate planning attorney. Our legal team is prepared to assist you with your estate planning needs. Give our firm a call today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.
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