Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Attorney Thomas B. Burton is joined by Attorney Matthew Underwood, of Underwood Legal, LLC in Madison, Wisconsin. Together, Attorney Burton and Underwood discuss and answer a reader's question about whether you can name a beneficiary in a Will if you don't have their Social Security Number.
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Transcript of Video: Can I List a Beneficiary in a Will Without a Social Security Number?
Okay, welcome back today
I'm joined by my friend attorney
Matthew Underwood. Matt operates Underwood
Legal, LLC a boutique estate planning and elder
law firm in Madison Wisconsin and Matt thank
you for joining us today, thanks for having
me today Tom.
So Matt I have a good question for you that
just came in recently and here it is it's
from Fond du Lac Wisconsin and the writer
asks the following can I
list a beneficiary in a will without their
social security number?
Good question so can you list a beneficiary
in a will without a social security number
absolutely when we're naming a beneficiary
in a will that we you know, we have absolutely
need to be able to identify that person so
I'd recommend you know, a full legal name
with a middle initial even but I would encourage
you not to put a social security number in
a will and I would go as strong to say never
put a social security number in a will because
wills become public record once the person
making the will passes away so
Anything that you thought might have been
your private wishes that you put in your will
all of that becomes public when you pass away
so and the other thing is, you know, if
you put a beneficiary social security number
in the will and you pass away again that becomes
public record and now that beneficiary is
going to have to live with the fact that their
social security number is out in the public
record so we want to avoid that at all
costs now if you're working with a life insurance
company, you know a financial company and
you want to set up a beneficiary on one of
policies or one of your accounts oftentimes
the financial company will ask for the beneficiary
information including social security number
and usually that's okay because those beneficiary
forms aren't public record that's just a contract
that you have between yourself and the insurance
or financial company so that would be fine
so again, you can put that in a beneficiary
form if asked by the financial company, but
do not put a social security number in the
will so that's really you know, Tom and you
can chime in here, but that's where I would
have recommended people look at
trust planning because when we do trust planning
trust do not end up in in court at all trust
our private documents, so when people have
concerns about privacy, you know or asset
protection even that's where yeah really looking
at trust instead of wills but I don't know
your thoughts on that Tom.
Yeah exactly Matt that was a great answer.
I have never put a social security number
in a will just for that reason you don't want
that personally identifiable information on
your likely your loved one your heirs out
there after your Death because at that point
your dead so your social security number might
not be a problem, but their number being out
there would be a problem for them and again
all I do is the full legal name we just have
to be able to identify the heir in the will
and a full legal name is plenty.
I've never done a social security number and
I agree with Matt I would caution against
it and Matt I think your spot on with there's
maybe some confusion with life insurance companies
sometimes requests that that information on
their death benefit form social security number
but it is not a legal requirement in a will
and certainly not in the Wisconsin statutes
so go ahead and put your will together with
the help of an attorney and just use the full
legal name of that beneficiary you want to
name so I think that's a great question and
we wish you well with getting that set up.
Matt, thank you for joining us and for that
Thank you Tom and thank you to the questioner
for the great question, that's all for today,
thanks for joining us and we'll see you next
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