Estate Planning Mistake Costs Man’s Children $400,000

The other day, we read an interesting news story that we thought all of our Texas readers should know about.

The story concerned a man who died of cancer in 2008. According to his children, the man met with financial advisors and had a will made because he wanted to make sure his children were provided for after his death.

Unfortunately, the man made a $400,000 mistake.

That’s because on his IRA beneficiary form, he said the nearly half-million dollars he had saved up was “to be distributed pursuant to my last will and testament.” However, he did not fill out the form correctly, and that made his surviving spouse the automatic recipient of the money.

The problem with that (according to his children) is that the man wed his most recent wife two months before he died. They think she took advantage of his weakened state and told a court their father intended to provide for them, not for her. However, there wasn’t much the court could do, and the $400,000 ended up going to the recent wife.

The lesson to be learned here is that even with careful estate planning, making a mistake on a beneficiary form like this can really throw a wrench into even the most carefully made plans. That’s why we advise all of our estate planning clients to review all of their important forms at least once a year (tax time is a commonly used milestone).

For more information on what you need to do to make sure that everything is as you want it in terms of what happens to your assets, please feel free to contact us.