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What happens to assets if a beneficiary dies first

Some people in Nevada might wonder what will happen if a beneficiary dies before the testator of a will. In part, this could depend on how the will is written.

A last will and testament might name someone else who should receive the asset if the beneficiary dies. It might also say that if the beneficiary dies first, the asset will become part of the residue of the estate. If the will does not state what should happen to the asset, it may also become part of the estate's residue.

However, this is not always the case. Along with a number of other states, Nevada has what is called an "anti-lapse" statute. According to this statute, if a beneficiary dies, the beneficiary's descendants will receive the property if the beneficiary is a descendant of the testator. In other words, if a person leaves $5,000 in a will to a son, and the son dies but also has children, the $5,000 would go to that person's children. If the person leaves $5,000 to a family friend and the family friend dies, the money would not go to the friend's children. Instead, it would revert back to the estate.

The possibility of a beneficiary dying is one of several reasons that estate plans should be reviewed regularly. Other family or life changes that may necessitate a review include marriage, divorce or births. There could also be changes in tax law that mean an estate plan should be updated. When updating a plan, it is important to think beyond documents like wills and trusts. Estate owners often neglect beneficiary designations, which are forms they fill out for accounts such as life insurance policies. A lawyer could help a client create a thorough estate plan.

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