If in my Will I intend to leave my estate to my partner, once he dies would my estate go to his family or whoever he chooses to in his Will?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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If in my Will I intend to leave my estate to my partner, once he dies would my estate go to his family or whoever he chooses to in his Will?

Is there anyway for me to dictate that I want it to go to my family if he was to pass away?

Asked on August 14, 2019 under Estate Planning, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can easily have it go to your family if he predeceases, or dies before, you: e.g. "My entire estate shall go to John Doe unless he shall predecease me, in which case, it shall go to...."
Once someone inherits money, however, it is up to them, not you, what happens to it after they die subsequent to you. The only way to control what happens to your estate after your death is to not give it directly to your partner, but to set up a trust (with a separate trustee) for his benefit: the estate will go to the trust, and the trustee will then manage and distribute it in accordance with your instructions, which can include turning over any unused portion to someone else (e.g. your family) when the beneficiary dies.
For a very simple example: say that your estate (total value of all assets, including real estate) would be $500k; we will ignore interest (e.g. if it is invested) for simplicity's sake. Say you believe that your partner would be helped by $25k per year in additional money. You could have your will create a "testamentary trust" for his benefit where the trustee will distribute him $25k on the 1st of each year (or a bit of over $2km/month, if you'd rather do it that way) for the next 20 years. If your partner dies before the entire estate is used up, your trustee would be directed to distribute the remainder to certain named family members of yours. 
You can set up a trust almost any way you want--equal payments over time; large payments every several years; paying certain bills and expenses for the beneficiary, rather than giving him money directly; etc. But the point is, to keep control over the money, it must be in a trust, since once it is given to a person, it is his to decide what to do with. 
If you wish to explore setting up a trust, consult with a trusts and estates attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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