Wynn at Law LLC always encourages estate planning clients to check who they’ve elected as beneficiaries of their accounts and policies. Not all assets are distributed by or through a will. Some accounts, such as retirement funds and life insurance policies, let owners name beneficiaries for that particular asset.
Here are a couple of examples where missing or ‘wrong’ beneficiary listings can be a hang up for your decedents.

 

No named beneficiary. These days with paperless documents, most insurance agents can’t click OK on your policy if the beneficiary field is left blank. Older policies – not the case. You may have left it blank because you were in a rush, didn’t see it, or thought you would fill it in later. Now is later. Without a named beneficiary, an account will need to go to probate court, where a judge will decide who gets the money.
Former spouse named as beneficiary. Face it, surviving a deceased spouse or divorcing a living one involves tons of legal paperwork and decisions. One many people forget during this life change is to go back and designate another beneficiary. Ex-spouse doesn’t mean ex-beneficiary… a view that was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. Named beneficiaries get the proceeds, no matter how estranged the relationship. Imagine the family chaos following your passing if the ex got the money you wished for your current spouse or your children.

It’s a good idea to review three things: Old pensions in which you are vested, 401(k) plans still sitting at former employers, and every life insurance policy still in force with your name on it. By the way, that includes annuities, which are life insurance contracts. Wynn at Law LLC likes to have clients review beneficiary information after every life change such as retirement, the births of children or grandchildren, marriage or divorce. You want your money to go where you want it to go.

*The content and material in this original post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  
Photo by Robert Churchill., used with permission.




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