Your estate plan must include many tools to ensure proper handling of your assets after you are gone. Along with wills and trusts, beneficiary designations are another essential aspect of a solid estate plan.
Even a minor error in completing beneficiary designations can lead to serious issues with your estate plan. Mistakes can also result in your loved ones not receiving your assets as you intend. Fortunately, this guide can help you avoid errors and ensure greater peace of mind.
Understanding beneficiary designations
Companies that issue things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts provide beneficiary designation forms when people purchase insurance or open accounts. These forms allow you to write in the intended beneficiaries of assets in the event of your death.
Beneficiary designations supersede other estate planning tools, such as wills. That means courts will defer to the information included on designation forms even when you include directives about life insurance policies and retirement accounts in your will.
How to avoid common errors
The first step is to make certain that you actually completed beneficiary designations. If it has been a while since you purchased an insurance policy or opened a retirement account, now is a good time to conduct a thorough review. You should also make sure that the names on designation forms are accurate. This is especially important if beneficiaries have gotten married or divorced over the years.
If you want to include minors in your estate plan, it is best to use another tool to leave assets. Otherwise, you will need to establish a conservatorship, which can be a complex and expensive process. When it comes to assets that pass directly to heirs, you should select a financially responsible adult to be the recipient.