Yuck what a thought! But every estate plan should address this possibility.
Most people plan to pass their assets on to the next generation … to their sons or daughters or grandchildren. However, sometimes the worst possible scenario can happen. The whole family, including the heirs to the estate, pass away in the same accident. What happens if the whole family dies in a car crash while on vacation together? How can you possibly plan for something like that? The answer is to designate a contingent beneficiary, and a good estate planning attorney will make sure you think about all the possibilities.
A remote contingent beneficiary is a party who will receive a benefit through your will or trust if a specific event of condition takes place. This is a way to have a backup plan, just in case the unthinkable happens. The remote contingent beneficiary could be a person or persons, a group or a charity.
One word of caution … you'll need to take extra care if you have someone with special needs who could inherit. If you name them as a contingency beneficiary, you'll want to make sure to arrange matters so that your generosity doesn't interrupt any government benefits the person may be receiving. Imagine a scenario where Bill and Jane were both divorced and had families by previous marriages. They have now married and combined their families. Bill has a child with special needs. He has worked with an estate planning attorney to ensure that his assets won't interrupt his child's Medicaid benefits. However, Jane's will simply states that her assets will go to her husband first, and then to her contingency beneficiaries — the children. If she doesn't change her will, then the special needs child will inherit and negate the Medicaid benefits.
Don't think that a tragedy can't happen to you and the ones you love. A good estate plan will take into account all possibilities, even the tragic ones. Granted, the odds are likely in your favor that your heirs will inherit just as you planned, but the job of an estate planning attorney is to make sure that your Will or Trust is drafted so that things turn out the way you want.
Or you can just let the abandoned property department in your state get the money…….