Articles for Financial Advisors

Establishing a Survivorship Period

Establishing a Survivorship Period

A survivorship period requires that a beneficiary must survive your client by a specified time period to inherit. The purpose of a survivorship period is to ensure that if the beneficiary dies soon after the client, the property will go to the alternate selected, rather than to people the beneficiary chose to inherit his/her property. Survivorship periods are commonly used in wills. Since probate takes months, the client is not tying up property by imposing a short survivorship period—45 to 60 days is common.

Establishing a survivorship period of more than a few weeks isn’t usually desirable for property transferred by living trust, since a principal advantage of a living trust is that property can be transferred quickly to new owners. There is no sense in setting up a living trust to allow quick transfer of property and then frustrating that result by requiring beneficiaries to wait many months to inherit.

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