What would you like to do?
This is a good question. The answer depends on what your are making the beneficiary designation for. That is, an estate, trust, life insurance policy, IRA or retirement ac…count, bank account. Also, what is the total amount of your assets, are you in a community property state? Finally, what do you want to accomplish. Also, estate plans and most policies and accounts allow you to divide between several beneficiaries and name successor beneficiaries, who take the asset if the primary beneficiary fails to survive. The most basic answer to the question is then beneficiary should be whoever you wish to receive the property when you die. For most married couples with moderate estates, their estate planning documents, life insurance, etc., will name their surviving spouse as the beneficiary. Where the estate is sizable enough sometimes the couple will establish particular gifts for children. Particularly if there are children of a prior marriage or relationship. For gifts going to minors (under the age of 18), most states have a version of the Unified Transfer to Minors Act. This act (generally) places a minor's property into the hands of a custodian. A court order is required to access (withdraw) the funds in the account. The entire account comes under the minor's control when they reach age 18. (In California, you can delay this to age 21, but you must include the directions in your estate plan.) As an alternative, where the funds are substantial or require significant management, a guardian of the Minor's estate may be required. The custodian or guardian is normally appointed by the court, but you can specify one in your estate plan. To avoid a custodial account or guardianship, or delay distributions beyond age 21 (in California) you will need to establish a trust for your minor child. The good news is that this can be an "empty trust" (holds no assets) until your death. Some assets, as a general rule, should always designate a person as the beneficiary (or beneficiaries). Life insurance and IRA in particular. Life insurance policies are income tax free to the beneficiary (but included in your gross estate for estate tax- more on that in a bit.) So, designating a beneficiary other than your trust or estate makes the most sense. IRAs (Traditional IRAs) have an additional reason to name real people as beneficiaries. You may recall that IRA distributions are taxed as income. When a person, or persons, inherit a IRA account as a designated beneficiary they can: 1) Cash out immediately; 2) Cash out over a five year period; 3) Take the IRA as an "inherited IRA" requiring them to take a required minimum distribution and allowing them to take additional distributions as needed. While the money they receive is still taxed as income, they can stretch the liability over many years- and they can grow the IRA without paying taxes (except on distributions.) Better yet, they can designate their own beneficiaries and continue this cycle for generations. (Until the feds change the rules.) In contrast, if your estate or trust is the beneficiary of a traditional IRA, they must cash out immediately (Trusts and estates cannot "own" and IRA). As trusts and estates pay the some of the highest income tax rates, this usually is not the optimum answer. And, of course, if you name no beneficiary for your life insurance or IRA, the assets are subject to probate which may increase cost of administering your estate. Estate tax planning is less of an issue under the current rules, except for very large estates. The current exclusion amount for 2016 is $5,450,000 (it increases annualy until the feds change the rules.) Also, the surviving spouse gets the benefit of both an unlimited marital deduction (all property going to the survivor escapes estate tax) and portability (where the survivor gets the unused portion of the deceased spouse's gift and estate tax.) Of course, this is for Federal Estate Tax- some states may have an estate tax (based on the amount of the decedent's estate) or an inheritance tax (based on the amount the beneficiaries receive), or both. What this means is that a married couple can effectively shield more than $10,000,000 of property passing to their heirs with a very simple estate plan. For larger estates (or estates anticipated to grow substantially), there are some additional estate planning devises to avoid estate tax. An ILIT (Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust) is one. An ILIT is a trust which owns an insurance policy on your life, and because you do not "own" the trust the policy is not included in your estate for estate tax calculations. But, they are irrevocable, so you can not change your mind latter. And, ILITs have other administrative, cost and tax considerations associated with them, so a careful analysis is required for their optimal use. As you can see, the question of "Who should be the beneficiary?" is a more complicated question than it appears, and the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney is generally worthwhile and recomended.
If no beneficiary is named on the life insurance policy is the surviving spouse the default beneficiary?
Answer Life insurance is a great thing: you can ensure that a loved one will continue to have the life style that they are accoustmed to should you pass on. When the po…licy was applied for, a beneficiary should have been named. The beneficiary can be changed at anytime (just contact the company and ask for a beneficiary change form). But never the less the proceeds WOULD go to a surviving spouse if there is not a designated bene at the time... Just as the rest of your "estate" would (unless you had a trust). A life insurance policy is its own trust/ legal document and would go to the spouse based on your "union" between man and woman. I suggest clarifing your intentions for the proceeds by naming a bene. Good luck What if the deceased also had a minor child who was not the child of the surviving spouse?
In New Jersey is the surviving spouse responsible for credit card debt when the account was solely in the name of the deceased spouse?
Answer No, New Jersey is not a community property state. It does however recognize Tenancy By The Entirety when it pertains to real property. Th…erefore the family home will pass directly to the surviving spouse and not be subject to probate unless the titling to the property is otherwise worded.
In Wisconsin is the surviving spouse responsible for credit card debt when the account was solely in the name of the deceased spouse?
Answer Wisconsin is not considered a "true" community property state in the sense that the surviving spouse is automatically responsible for the debts of a… deceased spouse who was the only person named on the account. In some instances the surviving spouse can be held accountable, for example if she or he held a second card on the account, and in some rare instances for charges made that could be defined as "neccessities". The absence or obligation of responsibililty is usually determined by a judge if the creditor decides to file suit for a debt that is excluded or cannot be recovered through probate action.
Answer If the couple resided in a community property state it is possible for the surviving spouse to be responsible for debt incurred by a deceased spouse… even though he or she was not an account holder. Texas and Wisconsin are not considered "true" CP states as they treat solely incurred marital debt somewhat differently as do the other CP states.
Is a surviving spouse in Arizona responsible for repayment of a credit card debt when the account was solely in the name of the deceased spouse?
The assumption is that the wife inherits at least half, if not all, of the husband's assets. But the estate has to liquidate all the credit card debts before the can transfer …any remainder to the spouse. One way or another, the spouse ends up paying the debt. The spouse has some right in all real property owned by the husband. If the assets are not enough to cover the debt, the real property may have a lien placed against it to cover those debts.
Is surviving spouse the legal beneficiary of a life insurance policy if a different beneficiary is named?
No, the spouse is not. The beneficiary is named. There are laws that require the spouse to sign an acknowledgement that there is life insurance that she is not the beneficia…ry of.
In Texas if a deceased spouse has named someone other than the surviving spouse on a bank account broker account or CD does the surviving spouse have any claim under community property law?
That would depend entirely on Texas law. Suggest you consult a probate (or estates) attorney in Texas.
Is the surviving spouse the legal beneficiary of a life insurance policy if no one is named beneficiary?
The policy would default to the Estate. which in most cases the spouse would be the executor of the estate. however, it would have to go through probate court first, so you al…ways want to have a primary beneficiary a life insurance policy.
A son can contest a will on behalf of the surviving spouse. The existence of a PoA before death has no affect.
The legal system generally will allow you to contest anything you like. However, you chances of changing a designated beneficiary on someone else's IRA are slim. If you decide… to contest a beneficiary, recommend you contact an attorney for advice.
Can your fathers wife contest and receive your fathers annuity account if you are named the beneficiary of the account before they were ever married?
She can contest it, but she won't win. Another View: While the above answer MAY wind up being true - too little is known of the circumstances to give a 'blanket' answer. More …information would have to be known about the annuity - it's administrators rules - the laws of your particular state - etc - etc.
The spouse should be the beneficiary.
When one spouse dies in a joint policy and no beneficiary is named do the proceeds default to the joint spouse that has survived?
If an insured has a policy where there is no named beneficiary, or the named beneficiary is deceased, then the benefit will be paid to the insured's estate.
No, but you may need to ensure that the spouse if you are estranged cannot make a claim against this as an estate in the event of anything happening to you if that is what you… want.
Can you contest the beneficiary of an investment account if the account holder is deceased and was incompetent?
Yes, you can contest the beneficiary if you have evidence that the beneficiary was designated by an incompetent person.