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Name Alternate Beneficiaries

Published December 29, 2009

When drafting a Will or trust document it is always important to consider multiple contingencies. One such contingency is the possibility that the primary beneficiary of your estate will not survive you. If a new beneficiary is not named, by default the state will decide how assets and property are to be distributed, according to state law. And the law may not correspond with your wishes.

Wills are living documents, meaning they can be modified or amended at any time to reflect changing circumstances. However, busy schedules may prevent changes from being made in a timely manner. Naming alternate beneficiaries will prevent the need to modify a Will during already difficult times.

Naming alternates in a Will is a good practice in general. Families with young children should name guardians and successor guardians. Alternate executors may also be named should the original executor be unable to perform his or her duties. Careful planning will help ensure wishes are carried out even when unexpected events arise.

Bernard Krooks is a New York Estate Planning lawyer with offices in White Plains, NY and New York, New York. To learn more, visit

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