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Topic: Assets Acquired After Estate Plan


By Milton Babirak, JD, LLM      |      Babirak Carr, PC     |     Sterling, VA

So, you already have an estate plan. Maybe you have had it for a while; maybe it is brand new. In the process of preparing and executing your estate plan, your estate planning lawyer advised you on how to title the assets you had at that time and how to designate beneficiaries for your life insurance, retirement plans and other assets. You’re done. Right?


Probably not. As time rolls on, either in the course of months, years or even decades, your assets will change. You’ll buy more assets, change accounts and sell assets. It can be obvious like buying a vacation home or a new car or receiving an inheritance. Or it can be less obvious, like getting a new investment account when you change investment advisors, or a new retirement account when you change jobs. There are all sorts of ways for your assets to change over time.


Revocable Trusts

If your estate plan includes a revocable trust, your lawyer advised you that it is very important to title your assets in the name of the trustee of your revocable trust.  In the case of certain assets like, retirement plans and life insurance, your lawyer did not advise you to change title but he or she may have advised you to designate your trustee as the beneficiary of such assets. As time rolls on and your assets change, it is critical that you and your lawyer periodically review your assets and make sure that they are properly titled or have properly designated beneficiaries. Otherwise, your estate plan may not work as planned.



If your estate plan is a will, you need to know which of your assets will pass pursuant to your will, pursuant to the title of the asset or pursuant to the designated beneficiary of the asset. For example, if you have a joint account or if you have a retirement plan that names your spouse as the beneficiary on your death or if you have real estate that is titled in the name of yourself and others, such assets will pass pursuant to the title or those beneficiary designations and not pursuant to your will (or revocable trust). In the case of a will, too, it is a good idea for you and your lawyer to periodically review your assets and make sure they are titled or have beneficiary designations that are compatible with your estate plan.

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