Law Offices of Frese, Whitehead & Anderson P.A.

Local: 321.473.3295

Toll free: 866.510.7362

We can tailor a solution to meet your needs. Find out how.

What is a 'Titanic clause?'

Most people assume, as they're developing their estate plan, that there will be some length of time between their death and their spouse's or other primary heir's. However, this isn't always the case.

We've all heard stories of widows and widowers dying soon after their spouses -- seemingly of a broken heart. It's not just spouses. Debbie Reynolds' death a day after that of her daughter Carrie Fisher three years ago was widely attributed to "Broken Heart Syndrome."

Of course, multiple members of the same family can perish together or within hours or days of one another after a car accident, plane crash or act of mass violence. When deaths are simultaneous or within close proximity in time, even the most carefully constructed estate plans can be thrown into disarray.

If none of the people you've named as heirs are still alive to inherit what you've left them, your assets will be divided based on state law. All of your assets could end up going to a nephew you never met when you'd have preferred they go to your favorite charity or your alma mater.

Estate planning experts recommend that people with significant assets and/or few potential heirs have a detailed succession plan in case a tragic event results in the deaths of your heirs.

If you're married, you and your spouse may want to include a simultaneous death clause in your estate plans if you're each the other's primary beneficiary. This clause designates which one of you will be considered to have died first for the purposes of your estates if it can't be determined who died first (such as in an accident) or if you die within a specific number of days apart. This prevents your assets from having to pass from your estate to your spouse's and then on to their designated heirs. This can be time-consuming and costly in legal fees and taxes.

Estate planning attorneys also recommend something called a "Titanic," "Armageddon" or "all-dead" clause. It's simply a clause that designates what you want to happen if all of your designated heirs and beneficiaries predecease you. You may designate, as noted before, a charity or other worthy organization to receive your assets.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you think through all of the possible scenarios, as unpleasant as they may be to ponder so that your estate plan leaves nothing to chance.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
AV LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell Peer review Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability Super Lawyers The Florida Bar Board Certified Real Estate The Florida Bar Board Certified Taxi Law The Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts and Estates The Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Florida Trend The Issues, People and Ideas that Define Florida Business