Articles Posted in Beneficiary Designations

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“Maintaining a valid and current estate plan is vitally necessary in order to ensure the efficient and orderly dispersion of assets after a person dies. However, even a small mistake can create huge problems during the settlement process, and in many cases, these errors are impossible for anyone to correct.”

There are a few important mistakes that can make an estate plan defective—most of these can be easily avoided by reviewing your estate plan periodically and keeping it up to date.

Investopedia’s article from a few years ago entitled “5 Ways to Mess Up Estate Planning” lists these common blunders:

2.28.20Many people have tens of thousands–even hundreds of thousands–of dollars in their IRAs. If you have an asset that large, shouldn’t you devote more effort to planning for its ultimate disposition?

A designated beneficiary is named on a life insurance policy or some type of investment account as the individual(s) who will receive those assets, in the event of the account holder’s death. The beneficiary designation doesn’t replace a signed will but takes precedence over any instructions about these accounts in a will. If the decedent doesn’t have a will, the beneficiary may see a long delay in the probate court.

If you’ve done your estate planning, most likely you’ve spent a fair amount of time on the creation of your will. You’ve discussed the terms with an established estate planning attorney and reviewed the document before signing it.

2.7.20This time of the year is a great time to revisit your estate plan, so you can ensure your legacy is protected for years to come.”

Many of us set New Year’s resolutions to improve our quality of life. While it’s often a goal to exercise more or eat more healthily, you can also resolve to improve your financial well-being. It’s a great time to review your estate plan to make sure your legacy is protected.

The Tennessean’s recent article entitled “Five estate-planning steps to take in the new year” gives us some common updates for your estate planning.

1.23.20If you pass away without naming beneficiaries in your will, it can create legal entanglements for your heirs.

If you decide to purchase a life insurance policy or to put some money into a new deferred annuity contract or Individual Retirement Account (IRA), you need to complete the beneficiary form.

However, Investopedia’s recent article entitled “Why Your Will Should Name Designated Beneficiaries” says that you may just name a person as a beneficiary, without fully appreciating this aspect of your estate planning.

8.2.19Yes, it is old-school, but if your family is on the traditional side, headed up by a breadwinner dad who runs the finances, then you need to make plans to ensure that your family will be okay, if something should happen to you.

This advice also applies to mothers who are the main breadwinners and run their family’s finances, even though the title of this Forbes article is “How Fathers Can Make Sure Their Families Are Financially Protected.”

Do you have enough life insurance? Be sure you’re adequately insured, so your family won’t struggle to pay the bills without your income. Many employees only have enough life insurance from work to cover a year’s worth of salary, which may be enough for some families. However, if your spouse can't make the mortgage payment on their own, and if they would be unwilling or unable to sell the home, you might want to at least make sure you have enough life insurance to pay off the mortgage. Once you know how much you need, buy a low-cost term policy for the maximum length of time you might need the coverage.

4.25.19There’s an easy way for select assets to be passed to heirs, with no need for probate. It’s called the beneficiary designation.

Your will is a document that is used to pass property and assets to your heirs, but it’s not the only way.

Certain accounts or assets have beneficiary designations, where you provide instructions on who is to receive assets when you die. Most people don’t realize that the beneficiary designation is more powerful than the will, and directions in a will are overruled by the beneficiary designation.

1.17.19Out-of-date beneficiary designations could completely undo your entire estate plan. It happens often, since people often neglect these ‘fine print’ details.

We hope that you have a will to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass. However, if you are like most Americans, many of your assets are not distributed through your will, but through a beneficiary designation, which you may have not thought about since opening up the account, retirement account, 401(k), IRA or SEP or taking out a life insurance policy. A word of warning: regardless of what’s in your will, the beneficiary designation takes precedence.

Benzinga’s recent article addresses this question: “Estate Planning: What Are Per Capita And Per Stirpes Beneficiary Designations?” Have you changed the beneficiary designations, since the account or policy was first started? If you need to update your beneficiary designation, talk to the company responsible for maintaining the account. They’ll send you a form to complete, sign and return. Keep a copy for your own records.

1.2.19Their lives were devoted to family and public service, and to each other. The passing of George H.W. Bush and his wife gave many Americans pause to consider their leadership and their devotion.

Few were surprised when George H.W. Bush passed less than eight months after Barbara’s death. Their deep connection—from his service in World War II to the Presidency and their role in public service after leaving the White House—was evident to everyone around them, says Forbes in the article, “Valuable Estate Lessons From The Passing Of George And Barbara Bush.”

The death of a longtime married couple in quick succession, is often called “broken-heart syndrome” or “widowhood effect.” The thought is that the lives of two people are so entwined they can’t bear to be without each other. The time between the Bushes’ deaths also raises practical questions in estate planning. Timing is critical in an estate plan, and if the deaths of married spouses happen within a short period of time, it can make the administration of an estate more difficult.

9.5.18There’s a saying about people who don’t have an estate plan created. They have a will, it’s just not the one that they want. Decisions are made by the state, and that includes who raises their kids.

If you’ve got young children under the age 18, says CNBC in a recent article, “You don’t have to be wealthy to put this estate plan into place,” you really need to make sure that you have a will. That’s where you can convey your wishes as to who should raise your children, in case tragedy hits and both you and your spouse are not able to.

If you die without a will, you won’t have the opportunity to designate the guardian you want to care for your minor children. Instead, a judge will decide this. It may be someone you really never considered for that essential responsibility.

9.1.18Talk about a train wreck waiting to happen: beneficiary designations from three or four decades ago can really create a problem for your heirs—or those you thought were your heirs.

Most people fill out beneficiary forms when they start a new job, open an investment account and open bank accounts. Then they forget about those forms—often for decades. Those people named as beneficiaries way back when, are now their heirs—whether they want them to be or not.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article, “Designated Survivor: Beneficiary Designations Can Make–or Break–Your Estate Plan,” reminds us that beneficiary designations override the terms of your will or trust. To avoid any unintended consequences, it’s very important to review your designations with your estate planning attorney. Think about the following:

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