Many different types of financial accounts have a designated beneficiary who will receive the assets of the account after you pass away. Some common financial accounts that have beneficiaries include retirement accounts, life insurance policies and annuities. However, it is important that you understand the following points regarding beneficiary accounts, to avoid confusion during your lifetime and following your death.
Beneficiaries take precedence over a will
You may have both a will and an account with a beneficiary. However, the terms of the beneficiary account will take precedence over the terms of the will. Wills go through probate, but beneficiary accounts do not. Even if your will states otherwise, if you have an account with a beneficiary, that beneficiary will automatically receive the account assets following your death.
Failing to update beneficiaries
It is a mistake to think that once you designate a beneficiary, you do not need to review this designation. Life is always changing. New children may be born, or you may get a divorce or remarry. When major life events like these occur, you will want to review your beneficiary accounts, to ensure they still meet your wishes and to give you the time necessary to change beneficiaries if necessary.
Keep all estate planning documents somewhere safe
Like a will or trust, it is important to keep any communications regarding your beneficiary accounts somewhere safe. If an account cannot be traced following your death, it could cause problems for those who are to receive assets from the account.
Take the necessary steps to ensure beneficiary accounts meet your wishes
These are only some examples of how to handle beneficiary accounts in your estate plan. Ultimately, this post does not contain legal advice. For more information about how to handle beneficiary accounts so they meet your wishes upon your death, it can help to consult with an estate planning attorney in the Portland area.