The following is an important reminder for every other year or so – more often if there are new people in your life:
Whoever, whatever you want to call them: Beneficiaries, “Bennys,” Heirs… make sure to check who is listed as Beneficiary or Beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, insurance policies, IRAs, trusts or in your Will (if you have a Will).*
Inevitably, time flies. Sadly, loved ones pass away; important loved ones may, well, change. (Think: divorce, relationship changes). Happily, new beneficiaries, or heirs, are born or enter the picture! In the busy nature of life, often the beneficiaries currently on record are not accurate or have not been updated in years.
First, what is a Beneficiary? A beneficiary is a person or persons who will inherit your saved retirement monies, receive proceeds of an insurance policy, or inherit your assets and possessions upon your death. NO ONE enjoys talking about this subject (except maybe estate attorneys who are highly trained and helpful in talking about these topics). Bottom line, after your death it is too late to make changes.
Here are the more common events that may occur as a wake-up call:
- Death of a parent, spouse, or other loved family member
- New child/niece/nephew is born
Upon each of these events a change to your beneficiary designation may need to be made. An estate attorney is one expert who can assist (for a fee). For investment and retirement accounts or insurance policies a trusted financial adviser (to whom you may already be paying a fee) is an excellent and often easier resource to consult to make the update.
Life and family events happen. In the middle of a change or upheaval a “beneficiary designation” may be the last thing on your mind. So, consider this note a friendly reminder to go and check who is the Beneficiary on your IRA, your 401k, and any other documents such as a Will or trust or financial instruments such as life insurance. It may be recently that you reviewed these things- great! Or it may be years since you last checked – more common. You will be grateful to know that your named beneficiaries are those you mean them to be.
*Please ask me to explain more about when it becomes necessary to have a Last Will & Testament or Trust in place.