- Survivorship marital property – goes directly to a surviving spouse. An example would be a house that has both spouses’ names (and only their names) on the title.
- Property that is jointly owned – goes to the surviving owner(s).
- Life insurance proceeds and funds in IRAs and other retirement plans – go directly to beneficiaries you listed on the appropriate forms.
- Transfer on Death (TOD) and Payable on Death (POD) assets and accounts – go directly to the beneficiaries named on the account or deed.
If all your property falls into the above categories, and you have no minor children, you might think you have no need for a will. You may be right. On the other hand, a will may still be wise.
For example, you and your spouse, the other joint tenant, or your beneficiary could die at the same time or that person could die before you. A will would enable you to name alternate beneficiaries. Also, you could save on estate taxes, thus leaving more to your beneficiaries, by using a will to set up a trust.