ALTERNATE TRUSTEES AND BENEFICIARIES
Many people who seek to have their Wills drafted are adults whose children have already reached the age of majority and moved away from home. In cases such as these, many people would question the need to have an alternate estate trustee or beneficiary if they name their independent adult child to those roles. However, it is important to consider the possibility that if only one estate trustee or beneficiary is selected, and that person dies before the person who made the Will, then there is no one to act as the trustee or inherit the estate. It is also possible that an entire family could pass away at the same time in one incident. Again, if this happens, the estate would be left without someone to administer it or inherit it.
With no surviving beneficiary, the estate will pass according to intestacy rules, which may not fall in line with the wishes of the deceased person. Intestacy rules can be complex, and despite popular belief one’s estate will not automatically go to the government unless there are absolutely no relations to inherit it—but it also may not go where the deceased would have wished. It is important to consider who you would want your assets to go to in the event that the “first in line” beneficiaries are not around to inherit.
With no estate trustee, the administration of the estate could fall to whomever applies for the role to the courts, and could result in family acrimony if remaining family members cannot agree as to who should act. Litigation over estate matters is expensive and time consuming and can eat up a lot of the estate’s assets. It is prudent to avoid it to the greatest extent possible by ensuring solid drafting of your testamentary documents, and that includes providing alternate trustees and beneficiaries.
Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance or advice with respect to Estate Law, Estate Planning or Estate Administration or Estate Litigation. We may be reached at 705-435-4339 / 1-877-85LEGAL (1-877-855-3425) or contact us via email.