When individuals consider how assets pass upon death, they immediately think of Wills (and perhaps Revocable Trusts for probate avoidance). What often is not considered, and even misunderstood, is that even if individuals have executed valid Wills, their wishes may not be respected. Why – because those estate documents will not generally supersede asset titling and beneficiary designations. Consider this example: Mr. Decedent provides in his Will that current wife Number 2 shall receive all his assets upon his death. And if Wife Number 2 predeceases him, the assets shall pass equally to his two children from his prior marriage. His primary assets are his $1 million insurance policy which still lists his first wife as the beneficiary; his IRA, which names his two children as beneficiaries; and his residence, where the Deed names only his oldest child as a joint owner with right of survivorship. Mr. Decedent does not realize that assets that pass by beneficiary designation (e.g., IRA’s, 401(k)’s, life insurance), or by title if there is a joint owner with right of survivorship (e.g., house, bank or brokerage account), supersede any provisions contained in a Will. Therefore, under the facts above, absent state law to the contrary, wife Number 1 receives the life insurance, the children receive the IRA, and the house passes to his oldest child. There are not many remaining assets to pass to current wife Number 2 in Mr. Decedent’s Will. Further, even if current wife Number 2 predeceases Mr. Decedent, the oldest child still receives the residence – it is not divided evenly among the children. The moral of the story is you cannot do estate planning without focusing on how your assets are titled and the asset beneficiary designations. Those titling and beneficiary designation decisions are as important to the planning process as provisions in the Will.
Coming up in December, John Dedon will be recognized in two prominent local publications. Washingtonian Magazine again names John as a 2023 Top Lawyer in the Trust and Estates category. Washingtonian Magazine chooses Top Lawyers by surveying local lawyers asking them whom they would trust if they needed legal counsel themselves. Northern Virginia Magazine also… Read »
In the March 2022 publication, John Dedon was again chosen by his peers and Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “Top Financial Advisors,” in the Estate Attorney section, for Virginia, Maryland and the District. John has been selected consistently for over a decade, and is routinely named as well for Washingtonian’s “Top Lawyers.”
In the December 2020 issue, John Dedon is again recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as a Top Trusts and Estates Attorney. Washingtonian Magazine chooses Best Lawyers by surveying nearly 1,000 attorneys recognized on a prior year’s list, asking whom they consider best among their peers. Coming up in the January 2021 issue, John will also again… Read »
I was recently interviewed regarding fundamental estate planning needs and the appropriate tools to accomplish your objectives. Below is the link to the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPP6wiPj6H0
Last month, John Dedon received two important and continuing recognitions as a Top Attorney in the financial planning and estate planning areas of law. Northern Virginia Magazine named John a Top Lawyer in the financial area of law. Top Lawyers by Northern Virginia Magazine is an annual peer-reviewed list based on surveys of other lawyers’… Read »
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About Revocable Trusts
John P. Dedon
John P. Dedon is a tax lawyer with a talent for explaining the complexities of tax law in lay terms. Working in the estate planning, asset protection and business areas for more than 35 years, John helps clients preserve assets and plan for the future with traditional planning tools, including Trusts (dynasty trusts, intentionally defective trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts), LLC and partnership entities, and cutting-edge concepts such as cryonic preservation trusts.
Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)
Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating/Top Rated Estate and Taxation Lawyer
Consecutive years named Washingtonian Best Lawyers; Best Lawyers in America® for Trusts and Estates; Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Wealth/Financial Advisor; Top Lawyer and Top Financial Professional by Northern Virginia Magazine.