Q: I have a will that leaves everything to my daughter. Recently I decided to change beneficiaries on my stocks.
Do I need to change my will too
A: Property that you have a beneficiary (or transfer on death TOD designation) for, such as your stocks, passes outside of probate. That is, the property automatically will go to the person listed as the beneficiary with the financial institution or brokerage firm without the need to go through the probate court. Your will only deals with property that has to be probated. Therefore, even if your will leaves everything to your daughter, the stocks will still not go to her if she is not listed as the beneficiary. This is true even if you specifically state in your will that your daughter gets the stocks. As long as their is a living beneficiary listed with the brokerage firm, the stocks will pass to that person. It is not a bad idea to update your will now and then, as well as any beneficiary forms or transfer on death designations that you have on bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies.
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