Naperville Estate Planning Attorney Offers Tips on Choosing Your Beneficiaries

beneficiaries, will, Naperville Estate Planning AttorneyOne of the main goals of estate planning is to ensure that your wishes regarding your assets and property are carried out after your death. Of course, a Naperville estate planning attorney is equipped to help you prepare the necessary documents and instruments to make the process relatively simple for you. For many of my clients, however, the real challenge is determining exactly what their wishes are. It can be difficult to decide who is to receive what portion of your estate, and while an attorney cannot tell you how to choose your beneficiaries when drafting your will, we can offer some things to consider.

Include Variety

It may be very tempting to oversimplify your will by simply naming your spouse as your only beneficiary. Or perhaps, in acknowledgement that your spouse may not outlive you, you may choose to leave everything to one child. In creating your will, it is important to remember that you are planning for the future, which is always uncertain. Having a sole beneficiary can essentially negate most of your effort should something happen to that beneficiary, and suddenly, the disposition of your assets is dependent upon his or her own estate planning decisions.  By choosing multiple beneficiaries, or even designating secondary or tertiary beneficiary levels, you and your executor will maintain more control over the distribution of your estate.

Consider Family Dynamics

Although it may not seem fair to have to do so, you should also give thought to the way in which your family is likely to react to your decisions. Try to avoid a “who cares, I’ll be gone” attitude. In your estate planning, you have the opportunity to promote family harmony or to sow discord. Obviously, you cannot always predict emotional reactions, but you can take reasonable precautions and eliminate potential loopholes. For example, you may choose to leave a majority of your estate to one child with the understanding that he or she will distribute the inheritance among siblings and descendants. An “understanding” is not the same as explicitly naming the other beneficiaries, however, and there is no law preventing the beneficiary child from keeping the full inheritance.

Avoid Conflicting Beneficiaries

In addition to the family struggles that may arise during the execution of your will, you must also take steps to ensure your will does not conflict with previously-named beneficiaries. Many investment accounts and life insurance policies require you to name a beneficiary when they are created. It is important to avoid contradictory provisions between your will and the specific accounts. Conflicting beneficiaries can require the court to determine which document takes precedence, effectively usurping your intended control over your assets.

Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer

Prior to drafting and signing your will, an experienced estate planning attorney in Naperville can help you reach a decision regarding you beneficiaries. With more than 30 years of legal experience, Attorney Denice A. Gierach can assist you in making the best choices for your family’s situation. Call us today at 630-756-1160 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you in protecting your family’s future.