Q: My mom and brother are my beneficiaries. If I die first, money goes to Mom. If she dies, will my step-father inherit?
I want to make sure that my step-father, who is legally married to my Mom inherits nothing.
A: This is definitely a tricky planning area. The starting point for this type of question typically is whether the money would pass through a will, trust, IRA, joint bank account, etc. A trust may be best to handle this situation depending on the state law where you are domiciled at death. You could give your mom a life estate and withdrawal rights for certain amounts but not allow her to take everything out so your brother get a share at her death, assuming she dies first.
Depending on the state law where your mom lives, you’re right to think your step dad could get the money if your mom got it and died before him. It’s possible. Or she could get it and they divorce and he gets a share of that if the state law provides for splitting that money. You probably want to talk it over with an attorney to set up a plan to make sure mom is taken care of but your brother gets the remainder and not risk your step dad getting it.
A: This is quite possible. You should seek the assistance of an attorney that does estate planning to make sure your documents are prepared to avoid this possibility. Also there is question as to whether your mother and step father executed any prenuptial or like agreements to prevent this possibility.
A: It is possible that precisely what you are trying to avoid can happen if you do not properly review, address and prepare your estate plan with an estate planning attorney. If you want to be sure that your mom receives assets and income and support throughout her life in the event of your passing, then you may want to look into setting up a Trust during her life and then upon her passing to your brother, etc.. If you convey assets to your mother outright upon you passing, she can do what she wants with those assets (leave everything) to her spouse, also, a surviving spouse has substantial rights to the estate of their deceased spouse, so any assets that go to your mom and become commingled as part of their marriage, would at least in part become accessible to your step-father, if not entirely owned by him upon your mom's passing. Proper estate planning can help with this to a substantial degree but you are going to need to speak with an attorney and work on setting up a proper estate plan according to your stated wishes. There are many factors to consider and above is just one scenario, the more details you will be able to provide the more precise the advice can be as it relates to the outcome you are trying to avoid.
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