Media Estate Planning Lawyer Discusses Wills
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If a will has not been properly updated, e.g. a beneficiary has become deceased, how would these assets be redistributed?
If an alternate beneficiary was named in the will, the assets would be distributed to that alternate beneficiary. If the assets were left to a group of people such as “my children,” then the death of one of the beneficiaries in that group means that the surviving members of that group get the deceased beneficiary’s share.
However, if the asset was not left to a class of beneficiaries or an alternate beneficiary was not provided for in the will, this is what is known as a “lapsed” or “failed” gift. The disposition of the assets in this case will depend on state law. NJ has an anti-lapse statute that only applies to certain lineal relatives. If the beneficiary is a lineal relative covered by the anti-lapse statute, the descendants of the deceased beneficiary will take by representation. Taking by representation means that when a beneficiary predeceases a decedent, the predeceased beneficiary’s next generation of descendants will share in the asset equally. For example, if Mom is a beneficiary of Grandma’s will, but Mom predeceased Grandma, leaving Son and Daughter, Son and Daughter will share the amount Mom would inherit equally. If Daughter had a child, Daughter’s child would not share in the asset, only Son and Daughter would.
Alternatively, if the anti-lapse statute does not apply because the beneficiary is not a lineal descendant, the asset would be distributed as part of the residuary of the estate.
Do you have questions about yours or someone else’s will? If so, contact the experienced Media Estate Planning Lawyer Steven Chisholm.