Titles are important in finance. Titling determines who gets what when the owner of an asset becomes incapacitated or dies.
I met a woman years ago whose husband was in a terrible auto accident that left him in a vegetative state. The accident was bad enough, but after the accident it was determined that all of the couple’s assets were in her husband’s name. She had to get a court appointment to act as her husband’s guardian, put up a bond, and provide the court with an accounting of every penny she spent of her husband’s money.
Assets held as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS) pass to the surviving tenant (usually the spouse) when one of the owners passes on. This is true even if a will or trust is written specifying someone else should inherit.
IRAs, insurance policies and annuities pass to the named beneficiaries without regard for any other wishes of the decedent.
It is a good idea to review your wills, trusts, beneficiary designations and any changes in your family with your estate planning attorney every few years to make sure that your assets are properly titled and your wishes are honored when you are no longer here.
If you have questions, we’re here to help.