The importance of an annual review of your beneficiary forms on your different accounts and/or policies is often overlooked. Think of your smoke alarm; most people have an annual schedule to change their battery. Your beneficiary forms on your IRA, 401k, annuity or life insurance policies, etc… are important too and should be added to your schedule. At a minimum they should be reviewed by you annually and/or after a life-changing event such as death of a loved one, divorce or birth of a child.
Just think how upset you would be if the government took more taxes on your monies because you didn’t name the beneficiary correctly on one of your accounts. Maybe you forgot to change the beneficiary from your ex-spouse to your new spouse on your life insurance policy. Or you just named your estate as the beneficiary and therefore your estate goes to Probate Court. The probate process could take a year or more to get finalized; delaying your beneficiaries from getting the monies. This could have large ramifications for your loved one’s after you have passed away when you wanted to bring them peace of mind.
Did you know that your beneficiary form will override your will on your IRA accounts? Say you remembered to update your will after you remarried but didn’t update your beneficiary form on your IRA account. This means the monies in that account might not be going to the person or persons you wanted.
There could be tax ramifications for those named as your beneficiary on your different accounts and/or policies. For example; naming a person or trust as a beneficiary will usually help those monies avoid going to probate court. This could also keep the monies away from your estate and available to creditors. We recommend you speak with your tax advisor to determine the best way to list your beneficiary to avoid the common pitfalls that beneficiaries deal with after the death of their loved one.