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Avoiding Trust and Estate Litigation Matters

Dec. 8, 2016

Many New York residents spend a great deal of time deciding who to name as their successor or beneficiary. This is an important decision, and one that should never be made lightly. The individual who is chosen to fulfill this task will have a number of important responsibilities, and will also be granted assets. Avoiding trust and estate litigation matters connected to successor or beneficiary designations can go a long way toward creating an estate plan that is in line with an individual’s needs.

In many cases, only one beneficiary is listed on an account. The estate plan may include multiple different accounts, with different beneficiaries listed for each. The problem arises when the named beneficiary predeceases the individual who created the estate plan. With no contingent beneficiary named, the assets held within the account will become part of the estate, and could go into a lengthy probate process.

There is nothing wrong with naming different beneficiaries for different accounts. In fact, this is an excellent way to ensure that various loved ones receive assets when the time comes. However, in order to ensure that those assets pass down in the intended manner, additional precautions must be taken.

New York residents should review their estate planning documents to determine if contingent beneficiaries are listed for each account. It might also be a good idea to create a master list of all accounts that involve beneficiaries. Having that information in one place can make it easier to conduct a periodic review, which is a critical step in maintaining a solid estate plan and avoiding trust and estate litigation matters.

Source:, “Estate planning: Don’t make these mistakes“, Joel M. Blau and Ronald J. Paprocki, Dec. 1, 2016