Maybe it's an insurance policy you took out years ago. Or the retirement plan you set up with your employer the day you started working for the company. Or the IRA you have been scrupulously contributing to for two decades.
You created them all to protect your financial future and that of the people you care about most. But over time, your personal situation may have changed. Perhaps you have gotten divorced and remarried? Or one of your children has gotten married, and you are not exactly thrilled with your new son or daughter-in-law? The fact is, change is a part of life. The question is, have your beneficiary designations kept pace with the changes in your life?
Remember, the ownership of many assets transfers outside the Will, including life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s, jointly-owned property and more. The beneficiary designations of these assets, not the Will, determine how they will be distributed. Many IRS rulings and court cases have concluded that the owner's statements and intent in his or her Will do not matter if they contradict what was written on the beneficiary designation form. This is why it is so important to review your beneficiary designations periodically to ensure they reflect your wishes now, not what you wanted when, for example, you opened the IRA 20 years ago.
We understand that reviewing your designations is something that's easy to put off, the kind of chore you'll get to “any day now.” The consequences of not doing so, however, can be catastrophic. At the very least, it will thwart your wishes regarding precisely who you want to receive your hard-earned assets after you are gone. As your estate planning attorney, we can't help but implore you—okay, maybe even nag you—to review your designations as soon as possible. Preferably today… right now!
While you're reviewing your beneficiary designations, take a second to review your current estate planning documents. Just like your beneficiaries, time can sometimes cloud our remembrance of what these documents say and what provisions are outlined in them. If after reviewing these important documents and beneficiary designations you have concerns or want to make changes, please let us know! We're happy to help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family. Get started by scheduling a complimentary consultation at 260-969-1177.