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This is unfortunate and, unfortunately, not that unusual. Parents and others make different distributions in their wills from the beneficiary designations on their accounts, and the heirs have no idea what the deceased person had in mind. Did he or she change her mind from when he or she wrote the will? Did the deceased person forget what he or she had in mind earlier? Did someone help him or her with the beneficiary designations not having any idea what the will might have said? This is one reason to use revocable trusts instead of wills and beneficiary designations. They avoid probate just like payable on death accounts, but they don’t create this confusion. Similarly, it isn’t a good idea to designate individual accounts in estate plans since the account balances can change significantly over time.

All of that said, you now find yourself in this regrettable situation. Technically, the beneficiary designations are binding. But if you and your brothers agree, you can follow what your parents said in their wills.

For more information about TODs, click here.