Common Disaster Clause

Question

Does the WillMaker will have a “common disaster” clause?

Answer

No, the WillMaker will does not contain a common disaster clause because it addresses the possibility of a common disaster in another way.

A 'common disaster' clause deals with what will happen if spouses die at the same time. Rather than using a common disaster clause, the WillMaker will provides for such an event using two common tools –- alternate beneficiaries and a survivorship requirement of 45 days. The will states that if your beneficiary does not survive you by 45 days, then the gift goes to your alternate beneficiary.

Here's an example to show how this works to provide for a common disaster:

Harry and Wilma are in a fatal car accident. Wilma dies immediately, and Harry dies a few days later. In each of their wills, they left everything to the other with a survivorship requirement of 45 days. Wilma named her sister as her alternate beneficiary and Harry named his son from a prior marriage as his alternate beneficiary. Because Wilma was already dead when Harry died, his property goes to his son. Because Harry did not outlive Wilma by 45 days, her property passes to her sister.

The result would be the same even if Harry and Wilma died simultaneously or if it could not be determined who died first.

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