A Last Will and Testament sets out what is to be done with one’s “Estate” when we pass away. But what is an “Estate”?
What an “Estate” is
An Estate is a person’s assets, including legal interests and entitlements of any kind, that are held solely in their name at the time of death.
A house or vacation property held jointly with another person is not part of the Deceased’s Estate. Upon death, the property is deemed transferred to the surviving joint tenant.
Similarly, with funds held in a joint bank account – upon death, those funds are deemed transferred to the surviving joint account holder.
A life insurance policy or registered investment with a named beneficiary (which can be a person, charity, or company) is not an Estate asset as it flows upon death to the person or entity named.
The Gray Area
Confusion often arises when one plans the distribution of an Estate but does not take into consideration assets that flow directly to another party and do not pass through the Estate as an Estate Asset.
Careful planning is required when preparing the Last Will and Testament that takes into account all of a person’s assets and where they will flow upon death to be sure that the assets can be distributed as intended.
Why a Lawyer is Helpful
It is best to engage the services of a lawyer to assist you with your Estate planning to be sure that every asset has been considered and will flow to your beneficiaries the way you want it to.
Many do not realize that Estate planning advice is included in the cost of the preparation of your Last Will and Testament and other Estate planning documents such as your Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement.
The correct advice now can save your loved ones from confusion and unintended consequences down the line, when a mistake can be expensive and time-consuming to fix if it can be fixed at all.
Better to have it done correctly in the first place and allow everyone to have peace of mind.