A very large percentage of estate plans name children or other family members as beneficiaries. Why? It isn't just about tradition. Those are most often the individuals who are closest to the testator. But what happens when someone doesn't have any children or close relatives?
For some people, their family is the people that they spend their daily lives with, whether or not those individuals even know who they are. We are talking about "friends" like beloved pets, television characters, songs that carried them through difficult times or charitable organizations for a cause they believe in. That is the beauty of estate planning, because a legacy left behind can be as unique as the individual who created it.
Take for example the million-dollar estate that a 71-year-old individual left to people who had never met him. The testator in this case was a bit of a recluse, spending time in his home, watching those characters he loved on the big screen and caring for animals.
This past July the man passed away. As does any estate, it took a little time to get the necessary documents in order and submit them for probate. As a part of the administration, two actors and a non-profit organization received notice letters that they would receive a bequest from the man they didn't know even existed.
The two actors were Peter Barton from "The Young and the Restless" and Kevin Brophy from the show "Lucan." Each of these two individuals received nearly half of the million-dollar estate. The non-profit organization The Anti-Cruelty Society received a donation of $5,000.
Source: Yahoo! "Man's Estate Left to Actors He Never Met," Susanna Kim, Feb. 8, 2013
Whether you want to follow tradition or a break from it, our Philadelphia Estate Planning team is well-equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to create a well-drafted plan.