The Hook Law Center has written an important essay on the issue of titling of assets. It’s a common misconception that wills and trusts determine who gets a decadent’s assets. This is not necessarily true.
Your will or trust generally does not govern disposition of the following:
- Any real property or accounts that may be owned jointly by you and another with the right of survivorship;
- Any real property with a transfer on death designation;
- Any account that may have a payable on death or transfer on death designation;
- Retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and IRAs;
- Survivor benefit plans; and
- Life insurance policies.
The assets in these accounts, plans and policies will usually pass to the surviving co-owner or the designated beneficiary of these accounts, plans, and policies. Beneficiary designations usually override the disposition of your assets as provided in your will or trust, as any accounts, plans, and policies that designate a specific beneficiary will be payable to that beneficiary.
Read the whole thing. And get a copy of my book BEFORE I GO to help you plan better.