What assets are not distributed in accordance with a Will?

Assets that have beneficiary designations (i.e. payable upon death accounts, life insurance, and retirement accounts) are distributed according to the named beneficiaries regardless of what your Will may direct. Also, any asset that is jointly owned with someone else with a right of survivorship will automatically pass to the co-owner rather than by the terms of your Will.

Utilizing beneficiary designations and joint ownership of property can be an effective way to give assets to others without having to go through the probate process. However, there are potential negative consequences which should be considered before these beneficiary designations or joint ownership arrangements are implemented. Also, joint ownership of a bank account is not an alternative to a General Durable Power of Attorney. See joint ownership of checking account below.