I have life insurance and a 403B that has my husband as primary. I have a will naming a brother as executor in case of both of us dying. Do I list him at secondary? Or does the will stating him to be executor enough to give him the rights to the money for distribution?
3 Answers from Attorneys
A will should be specific, with clear language to designate beneficiaries, personal
representatives, executors, property, disinherited individuals, charitable gifts, etc.
No, designating your brother as executor does not give him any property. Designate
your husband or brother as executor, with the other being designated as
alternate if the first is unable or unwilling to serve.
I agree with the above attorney as far as his answer goes but I think you are asking a different question. I think you are asking whether naming your brother as executor gives him any right to the money if you and your husband die together. It does not. If you want your brother to receive your money if your husband is not alive, you must name him as a secondary beneficiary on the policy or 403(b) account. An executor can only collect the funds in the estate and distribute them. He/she has no right to claim any of the funds for himself or herself.
There is too much room for error without the dialogue of a consultation. I suggest you meet with the attorney who prepared your will to make sure that you have the outcome you prefer. If that attorney is no longer available or you prefer to seek new counsel, do so.
I expect you are saying that your brother is the alternate executor named in the wills. So, he would act only if something should happen to each of you?
If there is not a secondary beneficiary named, then usually the proceeds would go through the estate and be distributed according to the terms of the will. Your brother, as executor, would be required to see to the proper administration and distribution of the funds. Sometimes having the proceeds pass through the estate is the best course. Occasionally, the governing contracts provide for other beneficiaries if none are named, so the documents should be considered.
If you want to be certain that the proceeds pass through the estate, that can be specifically declared. If you name your brother, then you will be naming him personally as the alternate beneficiary, not naming him as the representative of the estate.
If you review the company's information on naming a beneficiary, they will often offer suggested language for naming an estate, trust, etc. Regardless, I would work with counsel to avoid an unintended result.
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