More on the Primacy of Beneficiary Designations

Beneficiary designations trump a will. Tennessee has a statute on it:

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Forget Intent, It’s the Beneficiary Designation that Controls

Another case reiterates the primacy of beneficiary designations over other evidence of a decedent’s intent. The situation is tragic, but the result is wholly predictable. Wife and Husband were the parents of a 12 year old Son when they were both diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although Wife was diagnosed first, Husband was not expected to outlive her. Wife, however, died first. Son was 16 at the time. Wife was the owner and insured under a $600,000 life insurance policy. She initially named Husband as beneficiary. When Husband went to collect the insurance proceeds, he discovered that Wife had changed the beneficiary designation shortly before her death. The actual beneficiaries were Husband (50%) and Wife’s Sister (50%). Why Wife left half the proceeds […]

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New Case Underscores Need to Update Beneficiary Designations After Divorce

Husband and Wife were in the midst of divorce proceedings when Wife died. Prior to her death, the parties executed a separation agreement dividing their marital assets. Under the agreement, Wife was to retain the couple’s residence in Tennessee, as well as an IRA. Husband was to receive the couple’s residence in Georgia and a financial account. The parties had neither finalized the divorce nor fulfilled the terms of the separation agreement at the time of Wife’s death. Thus a legal battle ensued between Wife’s estate and husband regarding the proper disposition of the Wife’s assets, particularly those that were titled jointly with her husband, as joint assets normally pass to the surviving spouse by operation of law. The separation […]

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