Many people are under the false assumption that their Last Will & Testament dictates who receives ALL of their assets upon their passing. However, there are two different types of assets in your estate:
Your Will only governs your probate assets, which includes, generally, assets which you own in your individual name, such as bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, and personal belongings.
Your Last Will & Testament does not govern the distribution of your non-probate assets, which includes, by way of examples, life insurance proceeds with a beneficiary designation, funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account with a beneficiary designation, securities held in a transfer on-death accounts, payable on-death bank accounts or joint bank accounts (generally), and property you own with someone else in a joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety. Non-probate assets pass to the co-owner of the property or to the named beneficiary on the account or policy regardless of whether or not you have a Will.
Some people mistakenly believe that if they draft a Will, the desires expressed in their Will preempts the beneficiary designations and/or joint ownership of those non-probate assets. Be sure to review your non-probate accounts and policies to ensure they match your current wishes.
If you have questions or concerns about your estate plan, contact Jason D. Briel, Esq. at the law office of Wilhelm & Roemersma, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.