Is it time to update your beneficiary list?

Standard

If you paused for a couple of seconds to think about it, then the answer is YES.

Simply said, your beneficiary designations are important. It’s just as important to keep your list up to date. Consider making it a priority or things might not go as you planned.

It’s not uncommon to lose track of your beneficiaries, including which accounts have them, and who you designated. However, it is important to keep them current.

Make your beneficiary designations a priority…DO NOT overlook this critical task!

When you designate a beneficiary for an account, that person inherits the assets in the account, regardless of what your will says. That’s why updating your will document periodically may not be enough. There have been countless cases of assets going to ex-spouses because the beneficiary for an account was not changed after the divorce.

Typically, you’ll have beneficiaries for each of your IRAs, your 401(k) or other retirement plans, annuities and insurance policies. Your designations could be out of date just because of life’s changes. Since you made your initial choices, you may have married, had children or divorced. Some of the beneficiaries you chose could have died, divorced or married. Their circumstances could have changed so you no longer want them to be the beneficiary.

Tax laws change frequently as well, and they can have an impact on your choices. Choosing the wrong beneficiary, or failing to name a contingent beneficiary, can affect the long-term value of your IRA assets after you die. That’s why it’s important to review your choices with tax consequences in mind.

How to update your designations

At a minimum, you should have copies of your beneficiary designations in one place. If you don’t, call the trustees of your retirement accounts and your insurance agent and request copies.

Then review the documents and decide what changes you’d like to make. Make an appointment to review your decisions with your tax- and estate-planning advisor. Discuss matters such as naming secondary beneficiaries and whether to name your estate as a beneficiary (which is sometimes not a good idea).

Finally, send your changes to the account trustee, ask for a confirmation, and keep copies in your records. If you have questions about tax consequences or other tax matters related to your estate, contact our office.  tricia@oconnorcpafirm.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s