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Is your will really the final word on your estate?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Estate Administration

People often think of a will as an absolutely final document that can dictate exactly what they want their heirs to do with their possessions. If they change their mind on something or make any other decision later in life, they can just add that to the will, and their heirs have to abide by it. 

But is this always true? Does someone’s will have absolute authority over all their assets?

There are always exceptions that you should know

As with many things, there are exceptions to the rule. Your will is your final word on what you want to happen in most senses, but there are other documents that can actually trump your will. A good example is life insurance. If the policy was set to pay out to a specific beneficiary, that’s exactly what the insurance company is going to do. They do not care if you change your will. 

Of course, you can leave instructions to your heirs and hope that they follow them. Say your oldest child is the beneficiary and gets the entire payment. You can ask them to split it evenly with their siblings, and they may do so. But, even if you put that in your will, they are not legally obligated to do so, nor does the insurance company have to split the money up in any way that is not indicated in the beneficiary designation. 

It’s important to carefully consider how all of your legal documents are going to interact. There are ways to achieve your estate planning goals, but don’t let a mistake or an oversight derail those plans.