What Happens if the Beneficiary of a Will Has Passed Away?
If one of the beneficiaries of your will dies before (or shortly after) you do, it can be difficult to determine who inherits the property. There are a number of factors that influence this determination:
- Survivorship: Survivorship requirements determine the amount of time a beneficiary must live after your death to be able to inherit assets or property. The will might state these requirements outright, and state law could also play a role. For example, some states (not Florida) have laws that say your beneficiary must live you at least a few days to qualify as a beneficiary.
- Alternate beneficiaries: Some will makers name alternate beneficiaries to provide additional guidance in the event of the first beneficiary’s passing. In this situation, what happens to the property in question is clear — the alternate gets it. If there is no alternate beneficiary or the alternate beneficiary has passed away, the property could go a residuary beneficiary, the descendants of the primary beneficiary or the heirs of the deceased person according to state law.
- Residuary beneficiaries: Some wills state that any lapsed gifts become a part of the residuary estate, which is everything that is left after all assets have been distributed to beneficiaries. Residuary beneficiaries are the people who inherit the remainder of this property.
Will administration can be quite complicated if beneficiaries have passed away or if a deceased person’s will is out of date. This is one of many reasons why it is important to not just create a will, but also to regularly update it, whether it is on an annual basis or every time you experience a major change in your life.
For more information and guidance on how to create a will that establishes and communicates all your wishes, consult an experienced Tampa estate planning lawyer with BaumannKangas Estate Law.