Does a beneficiary designation override the terms of a Will?

UPDATED: Feb 21, 2012

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Does a beneficiary designation override the terms of a Will?

My sister passed away and made me the beniiciaryf of her 401k and life insurance and her work sent me the paper work to claim these thing. She had a hand written Will that also said she wanted the 401k and the life insurance to be part of the estate.

Asked on February 21, 2012 under Estate Planning, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, if your sister named you as the beneficiary under her 401 k plan and life insurance policy this designation controls regardless of what her handwritten Will states.

The reason is that a Will speaks at death and the designation of you as the beneficiary under the life insurance policy and 401 k plan was done prior to her passing.

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 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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