Remember when you opened that IRA account in 1998? Or, when you purchased that life insurance policy in 1991? You were asked to complete a beneficiary designation form for each account.
Suppose a few years later, you finally got around to creating your Last Will and Testament.
Guess what? Your listed beneficiary has a legal right to your assets when you die, even if you have named someone else in your Will to receive your assets. Yes, the beneficiary forms on file at the bank/brokerage firm take legal precedence over your Will. I have seen situations where clients have unintentionally left an ex-spouse’s name as the primary beneficiary under a life insurance policy. Another common mistake is when the listed beneficiary is a minor child, or is a friend or relative who is no longer alive.
This week, you should review your beneficiaries for your accounts and determine whether or not you need to change them. Beneficiary forms are easy to complete. And, don’t forget to remember to review these forms every few years.
Not to be construed as tax or legal advice. Please consult a qualified estate planning attorney.