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Deciding how to handle secondary beneficiaries

Even a seemingly simple estate plan can be more complicated than it seems. One thing that requires a great deal of consideration is who your secondary beneficiaries will be.

For instance, it is very common for married couples with children to have an estate plan in which the first spouse to die leaves everything to the other spouse, with the remainder going to the kids when the second spouse passes away. This means that the children will not receive any of the couple’s estates until both of them are gone.

Many people are happy with that arrangement, but others would like to see their loved ones enjoy a portion of their estates while they, the testators, are still alive. Other times, testators may want to provide for a child who is struggling financially.

Besides this, sometimes testators do not want their children to share equally in the estate, whether due to their individual economic situations or a strained parent-child relationship.

Instruments outside of the will can help with these issues. For instance, make gifts to individuals, either of cash or personal items. A written agreement can be used to provide a larger share of the estate to children who help their aging parents more than their siblings. For those who do not want to wait, gifts can be giving during your lifetime, though gifts over a certain amount could trigger tax consequences.

Everyone has their own ideas for what should happen to their estates after they pass away. An experienced estate planning attorney can help make that vision a reality.

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