Listing the Beneficiaries of a Will: Five Helpful Tips

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman

Attorney

The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

If your loved one has passed and you have begun the process of administering his or her estate, you are likely familiar with the form known as the Petition for Probate. This is the form that essentially kick starts the probate administration proceedings. Accordingly, the form asks for a great deal of information about the decedent, the estate, and the beneficiaries. One such section of the form specifically asks petitioners to state the name, relationship, age, and mailing address of everyone mentioned in the decedent’s will. The following provides five helpful tips to keep in mind when you are listing the beneficiaries of a will.

Five Tips for Completing the Beneficiary Section of the Petition for Probate

While this requirement sounds straightforward, many complexities can arise when the administration is actually started. Petitioners should pay attention to the following five scenarios as they complete the form and begin listing the beneficiaries of the will:

If a beneficiary dies after the decedent, but before the probate proceedings have begun, the personal representative for that person’s estate should be listed as a beneficiary with a notation that the person is deceased. The name and address of the personal representative should be used on the petition. If there is no personal representative, list the beneficiary’s name with a note that there is no personal representative.

  1. If the will contains a pour over provision, meaning the estate’s assets are directed to be placed into the decedent’s trust, list the trustees of the trust as beneficiaries on the petition. One important item to note: if the personal representative of the estate and the trustee of the trust are the same person, then all beneficiaries of the trust must be listed on the petition for probate.
  2. If the will makes a gift to a nonrelative who died before the decedent, then the gift lapses. It is important, however, to list the alternate beneficiaries, if stated in the will.
  3. If the will requires beneficiaries to outlive the decedent by a certain period of time, list the beneficiaries who would receive the property if the beneficiary did not survive for such time period. These individuals are known as contingent beneficiaries.
  4. If a later codicil (amendment) to a will deletes a beneficiary who was named in the will, list that person as a beneficiary. The reason for this, is that if the codicil is later deemed invalid, the provisions of the will would stand.

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