Beneficiary of Will

Considerations When Naming the Beneficiary of Will

It is important to select and name the beneficiary of a Will with care. The beneficiaries will receive the assets or benefits that have been designated in the document. There may be a single beneficiary or even multiple beneficiaries.

You need to be careful about how you name a beneficiary of a Will. While identifying beneficiaries by name and relationship is what you want to do, problems can still arise. For example, suppose you name your children as beneficiaries. Should one of your children predecease you, you will need to specify what happens to that person's share to avoid confusion. If you want that child's share to go to his or her heirs, then you must make that intent clear in your beneficiary designation. This can be accomplished by clearly setting forth an alternate beneficiary designation or by including a per stirpes clause.

Another consideration when naming a Will beneficiary is the status of the person you want to benefit.  For instance, if your child is not over the age of 18, the child does not have the legal capacity to receive a bequest in his or her own right.  In these situations, a testator should consider having a child's share placed into a trust the terms of which are set out in the Will.  This type of trust is a testamentary trust.  In a typical situation the Trust provisions may provide that the property is given to a named trustee to hold in trust for the child until the child reaches say age 21 at which time the child receives one-half of the fund.  The trust can then provide that the balance of the trust is to be paid to child when he reaches age 24.  Also, the trustee can be given broad powers to distribute the trust principal and income to the children throughout the term of the trust.

New York City estate planning attorneys commonly assist their clients in creating appropriate beneficiary clauses in Wills and providing for special situations such as the needs and protection of minor children.  I have worked with many clients to prepare Wills and other documents that reflect their desires regarding the distribution of assets to their interested beneficiaries.

Also, you should periodically review your Will and make sure that the beneficiary choices still reflect your desires. You should make certain that beneficiaries have not died or become too ill or incapacitated to enjoy the benefits of the funds or assets you plan to give them.

I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1979 and admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1982 after graduating in the top 10% of my class at The New England School of Law in Boston. I was admitted to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit and the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. I started my own law practice in New York City in 1985. I have many years of experience successfully working with and advising clients in creating and executing plans that effectively express their personal desires regarding the disposition and protection of assets. I do this while providing potential tax advantages and security for family and beneficiaries.

You can contact me by phone at (212) 355-2575 or fill out my contact form. I look forward to talking with you.