Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

Allowing heirs to control the distribution of assets

One of the purposes of estate planning is to allow people to retain control over the distribution of their assets upon their death. Sometimes, however, the person creating a trust or a will might want to permit heirs to control the distribution of assets that are left to them. There are methods for accomplishing this, but the maker of a will or trust should understand the consequences.

As a general rule, assets left to heirs through a valid will are under their control upon the death of the testator. If one or more of the heirs die before the testator, the language in the will could provide for a distribution of assets to the surviving heirs or to someone else depending upon the testator's desires.

The testator might decide to grant heirs the right to designate who should receive their share of an inheritance in the event they predecease the testator. A power to appoint gives an heir the right to designate who should receive an inheritance the heir would otherwise get. This removes control of the assets from the testator and puts it in the hands of the beneficiary.

A power to appoint is a useful estate planning tool, but it must be used with care to avoid a distribution of assets that does not follow what the testator would have otherwise wanted. Consulting with an attorney who has experience in preparing wills and other estate planning documents is an advisable way of learning more about how these matters can be accomplished.

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