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New York & North Carolina

What Is the Common Disaster Clause?


Comprehensive Estate Plans

All estates should have a Will, Trust, and Incapacity Plan. A comprehensive estate plan is designed to not only provide protection for your family and finances after you die and minimizes the difficulty, taxes, and court involvement that may otherwise be needed, but also to address worst-case scenarios that we otherwise don’t consider.

One of these worst-case scenarios is a situation in which two parties with intertwined estates die in the same event or accident, such as a husband and wife, or parent and child. In this situation, it’s not always possible to determine who died first, which can lead to confusion over who gets what. However, an Estate Planning Attorney can include a common disaster clause in your estate plan to address this possibility and help prevent unintended asset distribution consequences, tax obstacles, and potential legal challenges later.

The Common Disaster Clause

The common disaster clause generally states that for the primary beneficiary to qualify to receive benefits, they must survive the insured by a certain number of days. This is designed to prevent assets from passing into the estate of the other deceased individual, only to be immediately distributed from that person’s estate. So, if a designated beneficiary dies shortly after you do, the asset passes as if that person had died before you and goes directly to your contingent beneficiary instead. This can help with limiting the financial consequence of an asset being included in two estates in rapid succession. These financial consequences might include estate taxes and double probate costs.

To ensure your property is distributed as you would like it to be, and to prevent unnecessary estate settlement expenses and delays, your estate plan should include provisions to address the possibility of you and your spouse or other primary beneficiary dying simultaneously. Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC, can assist you with these provisions and provide you with comprehensive estate planning services utilizing our experience as not only attorneys but as CPAs as well. For more information, contact us here or by phone at (914) 228-7448.