No. of Recommendations: 3
If I have a beneficiary designation on my brokerage accounts leaving most to my wife but a small percentage to a charity, and on my will I leave everything to my wife, I believe the account beneficiary designation will rule, right? The charity will still get their percentage. My will simply gives everything else that does not have a specific designation (residual estate I think this is called) to my wife.

Correct. A beneficiary on an account takes precedence over a will because by having a beneficiary on the account, you have removed the account from the probatable estate, and so the will does not come into play relative to that account. The will only handles assets that are handled via probate.

That said, I prefer to pay an estate planning attorney to draw up estate documents because I think that covers all the bases better. This is just not a place that I'm willing to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, so I'd still recommend seeing an attorney to make sure you are doing what you want, and that it is valid in your state.

I've seen too many debacles from well-meaning people who try to do DIY estate planning.
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