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When a Beneficiary Dies Before Receiving an Inheritance


It’s not easy when a loved one dies. Not only are you dealing with the grief associated with the loss of your family member, but you are likely dealing with probate issues as well. This is especially true if one of your beneficiaries dies before they can receive an inheritance. Such a situation can lead to complicated matters with wills, trusts, transfer on death (TOD) accounts, payment on death (POD) accounts and life insurance policies. This is because you can’t leave assets to a person who is no longer alive. Depending on when the beneficiary dies, there are several situations that can occur under Florida law.

If a person dies after their beneficiary, the person should take steps to name new beneficiaries right away. Having secondary beneficiary designations is always a good idea to prevent such a situation from occurring.  In the event that there are no living beneficiaries, life insurance policies, TOD and POD accounts will go to the decedent’s estate. This will require that the estate go through the probate process.

A gift to a deceased beneficiary will go away, or lapse, unless it is protected under Florida’s anti-lapse statutes. If it lapses, it becomes part of the deceased’s estate. The state’s anti-lapse provisions state that a gift will not lapse if the beneficiary has died and was a descendant of a grandparent. In that situation, the assets go to the lineal descendants of the deceased beneficiary, such as children and grandchildren.

Another possible situation is that the beneficiary could die after the person making the gift from whom they will inherit, but before distribution. If the beneficiary outlives the person creating the estate plan, but dies before receiving the gift, the gift will go to the probate estate of the deceased beneficiary. It will then go to the appropriate heirs. If there is no will or trust, then Florida’s intestacy laws will apply. This will delay the deceased beneficiary’s probate and distribution process.

If the beneficiary dies after receiving the gift, it becomes the property of the deceased person’s estate when they die. This can be a complicated matter because if you will your money to your child, and your child is married, their spouse will receive your money upon their death. Maybe that’s not something you want. To prevent this, you’ll need to get a trustee involved. Finding a person to be around to take care of this situation can also be difficult. You’ll have to have one or more backup trustees in place to make this work.

Seek Legal Help

When a beneficiary dies during the probate process, things can get much more complicated. The laws vary by state as well, so make sure you hire an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process.

Get help with your probate issues from Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. He can help you understand Florida law as well as other provisions that apply.  Schedule a consultation today.  Fill out the online form or call 954-764-4330.




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