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No Escheats, Please: Charitable Giving as a Last Resort

If the entire population of the United States took a poll asking whether they would want their estate to go to the government or to a charity of their choice, what choice would win? Just making an assumption here, but I would bet charity would win in a landslide. Why? Because most people don’t like paying the government if they don’t have to. But, that’s exactly what would happen if you die with no intestate (default) beneficiaries. So, why not eliminate that possibility in your will?

Adding an Ultimate Beneficiary clause to your will – basically, if everyone else dies before you, or if you and all of the people in your will die together, then everything goes to X – saves your estate from escheats. Escheats is the process where the state takes unclaimed or abandoned property, including estate proceeds. However, if there is an ultimate beneficiary, you estate proceeds never become unclaimed or abandoned.

Charities, especially long-standing ones, are great ultimate beneficiaries because they are much more likely to both survive you and do something good with your estate proceeds. If the government claims your estate, who knows what they would do with it? By choosing a worth charity, like the V Foundation for Cancer Research or Habitat for Humanity, you ensure that your estate will further some noble cause, rather than being spent on some miscellaneous government budget line item.

Paul A. Yokabitus

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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