Q: My fathers will states my sister and I share equally his assets upon his death.
Of the assets to be equally divided, a bank account she has check writing on and a brokerage account she is the sole beneficiary. She was aware they were to be distributed equally. She is the executrix and 8 months later I've not received my half. I'm aware in most cases the beneficiary designation takes precedence. My father added a clause that should either sibling contest the will directly or indirectly that sibling would be treated as deceased. His belief being it would encourage my sister to follow his intention the estate be halved. How is 'contest' defined and how would this be arbitrated. I will broach this w/the council that drew it. Thanks in advance for your consideration.
A: Beneficiary designations trump Wills. Financial assets with a beneficiary designation pass outside probate. There is therefore no point in contesting a Will because you disagree with a beneficiary designation.
A: A decedent's estates is divided into two parts: probate assets and nonprobate assets. Probate assets are generally those assets that pass by title, e.g., house, car, etc. Nonprobate assets are generally those assets that pass according to a beneficiary designation, e.g., bank account, life insurance, etc. A will controls the distribution of probate assets.
Nonprobate assets generally pass according to the beneficiary designation on the account, if there is such a designation. If not, then such accounts will pass to the decedent's estate and will be distributed according to the terms of the decedent's will. You may want to contact the bank and the brokerage firm and ask whether there was a beneficiary designation on these account.
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