Estate Planning’s Ghostly Gotcha: When Ownership Haunts Your Final Wishes

You’ve written your will, created a trust, and you’re feeling as secure as a locked crypt. But wait! A phantom hitch might be lurking in the shadows, ready to haunt your family: the alignment between your estate plan and the way you own your assets. Spooky, right?

The Ghost in the Legal Machine  

The skeleton key to ensuring your estate plan goes off without a hitch is understanding the importance of asset ownership. A will is like a spell; it only has power over assets that are solely in your name or without designated beneficiaries. Say you co-own a haunted mansion with a friend, complete with survivorship rights. When you journey to the other side, your co-owner inherits the eerie abode, bypassing your will. Basically, if you wanted your will to control the fate of the mansion, you should’ve held the title differently.

Trusts and Treats  

Trust instructions work like a magic circle, but they only protect assets that are within it—those owned by the trust or with the trust designated as the beneficiary. If the asset isn’t within the circle, your trust’s magic has no power over it.

A Tale from Beyond the Grave  

Picture Gomez Addams with a will and a trust naming his beloved Morticia as the beneficiary. He co-owns the family mansion with Uncle Fester and also has a life insurance policy, naming Wednesday and Pugsley as beneficiaries. After Gomez’s spectral exit, Uncle Fester becomes the mansion’s sole proprietor, and Wednesday and Pugsley divide the life insurance booty. Because of the ownership and beneficiary designation mix-up, Morticia ends up empty-handed, like a kid with a torn trick-or-treat bag.

Trick or Treat Safely  

Don’t let your estate plan turn into a house of horrors for your loved ones. It’s critical to make sure your asset ownership aligns with your estate plan’s goals. So if you want your estate plan to be more treat than trick, consult with professionals like us to ensure everything is in order.

When it comes to estate planning, don’t get spooked. With the right guidance, you can avoid any ghoulish mishaps.

Andrea L. Jakob, PA is located at 12401 Orange Drive, Suite 219 in Davie. They can be reached at 954-862-1479 or on the at