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What Other Things Should I Consider When Drafting My Will?

Family Law Attorney in Coeur d’Alene Specializing in Wills

Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship (“JTROS”)
With this arrangement, each of two or more “tenants” has an equal, undivided interest in the whole account or asset. Most couples own their house and checking accounts in this way. A deceased person’s share automatically shifts to the surviving joint tenants at the very moment of death. Of course, there is paperwork to complete before the account will be switched to the survivor’s name alone. And your state taxing authority might place a lien on joint accounts to make sure state taxes are paid, especially if the surviving tenant isn’t a spouse. You’d then need what’s called a “release” from the state to access your funds.

Tenancy In Common
An alternative to JTROS ownership is “tenancy in common.” This isn’t what most married couples in common law states have or want, with respect to their marital property. In this arrangement, each tenant takes a 50% interest and can independently sell or bequeath their interest in the property. Tenancy in common is a frequently seen and appropriate form of ownership in many situations, such as when siblings inherit a piece of real estate from their parents. Be aware, however, that disagreements between tenants in common could lead to the sale of one of their shares to an outsider.

Retirement Plans and Individual Retirement Accounts
Money in retirement plans or individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”) goes directly to the beneficiary you choose when you enroll in the plan or open the account, bypassing probate court.

Life Insurance Proceeds
A life insurance policy payoff is part of your private contract with the insurance company, and should promptly go to whomever you direct, with no court involvement. Proceeds from a policy owned by a deceased person going to a named person as beneficiary are excluded from federal income tax and state income or death taxes in most states.

Contact our office in Coeur d’Alene County to schedule a consultation with an experienced and skilled family law attorney specializing in wills.