Contrary to popular belief, your Will does not supersede the beneficiary designations on your insurance, bank accounts, and retirement assets. If you put a child’s name on your bank account for convenience, that child may well be a co-owner of the account and receive entire amount at your passing, regardless of what your Will says about splitting it among the other children.
Your IRA beneficiary will have to share the IRA proceeds with their creditors (based on the recent Supreme Court Clark decision) unless you funnel their benefits through a Standalone Retirement Trust (“SRT”). If you have an IRA which you want to leave to your children, naming them in a standard beneficiary designation will provide them with an “inherited IRA”. The Clark decision determined that inherited IRAs do not enjoy the same asset protection from creditor claims that an owned IRA provides. Using an SRT can provide economical asset protection to your IRA beneficiaries.
Our current state of technology gives anyone the ability to write their own Will using software (the “attorney in a box” solution). However, true estate planning goes beyond a one-size-fits-all solution putting words on the page. A skilled estate planning attorney will tailor their client’s plan to the client’s circumstances in order to achieve the desired result. Beyond that, your estate planning should be revisited as frequently as your life circumstances change, just to make sure that it will still produce the result you want.