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Can the use of secondary beneficiaries improve the probate process?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2022 | Estate Planning

While people often become enamored with the concept of avoiding it entirely, depending on the size of the estate, the probate process is likely a necessity. In Nevada, probate is largely the process by which officials identify and locate beneficiaries, followed by the distribution of assets. While individuals generally cannot entirely avoid the process, a testator can take steps to make the process more efficient.

When crafting a comprehensive estate plan, many individuals overlook the notion of secondary beneficiaries. This means that the testator will bequeath their car, for example, to a nephew. What happens if that nephew, the primary beneficiary, cannot take ownership of the vehicle? With a secondary beneficiary in place, the probate process simply moves to this individual and continues distributing assets.

Why would a secondary beneficiary be necessary?

There are numerous reasons, including:

  • The primary beneficiary has died.
  • The primary beneficiary refuses the inheritance.
  • The court cannot locate the primary beneficiary.

In these situations, it is crucial to have a secondary beneficiary listed.

While this might seem like a daunting task, many financial experts recommend listing secondary beneficiaries for larger assets. A car, a vacation home, a plot of land – these assets have a higher monetary value and should be treated differently. Even though numerous assets carry significant sentimental value, it could be time consuming for an individual to account for every asset with both a primary and secondary beneficiary.

People can accomplish much of this through revisions. Many financial experts agree that individuals should review their estate plan every three to five years. During these revisions, people can identify alternate beneficiaries on their most valuable assets to facilitate an efficient probate process.