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Understanding your rights as a beneficiary gives you peace of mind and confidence in the future

There are many common challenges and circumstances that a beneficiary may face when settling the trust of a deceased loved one. We’re well versed to help you navigate the terrain.

Trustee Selection

What was once a decision that took great thought and selection—who you want to serve as trustee—may evolve into a new choice requiring introspection: How do you remove and replace a trustee?

Not only will a new trustee need to be selected, but the process for active trustee removal may be a challenge and expensive. Provisions for trustee replacement were not commonplace many years ago. Most present-day trusts include some provisions addressing this matter.

A beneficiary of a trust may want to change a trustee for various reasons. The trustee may no longer want to serve, they may be failing to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, circumstances change, or the trustee may be negligent in dealing with trust assets.

Beneficiary Designations and Retirement

Beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets allow the respective assets to pass directly to the named individual(s) upon the account owner’s death. Fortunately, up-to-date beneficiary designations allow the transfers to occur immediately without the delay of probate.

Unfortunately, when the account owner fails to keep designations current, there is a risk that an ex-spouse might receive the assets or that children born since the documents were last updated will not be provided for, among other issues. No matter how often an individual updates their will or how clearly they outline their wishes—beneficiary designation forms are followed by law, even if they are outdated.

Widows and Widowers

Rebuilding your life after a spouse passes away involves proper planning, and the potential financial loss associated with a spouse’s death could impact a surviving partner and their family. Widows and widowers should review their estate plans with their attorney after a spouse’s passing. The needs and goals of an individual change at different life stages.

Next Steps

To learn more about your rights as a beneficiary and for guidance on navigating estate and trust law in North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, and Florida, contact one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.

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