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Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

While it is not a requirement, naming alternative beneficiaries in your will and in your beneficiary designation forms is a good idea.

For assets with beneficiary forms, such as your IRA, life insurance and annuities, if the primary beneficiary does not survive you, then the asset pours into your probate estate and passes under your will. If you have no will the assets pass to your heirs by intestate succession. This could cause unnecessary taxes, especially with your qualified plans (IRAs, 401k, TIAA-CREF, etc.) as it might require that the tax deferred assets are liquidated an all taxes paid.

For your will, if you name only one beneficiary and that person either dies before you or disclaims the gift, then your assets will pass by intestate succession to some family member. Given that you didn’t include these people in the will, you likely didn’t want them to inherit your assets. By naming a charity as alternative beneficiary, your assets can pass to an organization that you admire, rather than to a family member you do not.

Talk to your Philadelphia estate planning attorney about alternatives and make sure you avoid unnecessary taxes and that your assets end up with the people or organizations that you like.

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