Who are your beneficiaries? It’s important that you know.
If I asked you who the beneficiary is on your life insurance or retirement plan, would you know? Surprisingly, many people wouldn’t. It’s worth taking the time to think about your beneficiaries to help avoid future problems. Here is some information to help you make smart decisions about naming beneficiaries and keeping your information up to date:
What kinds of accounts can have beneficiaries? Life-insurance benefits and retirement-plan assets are paid directly to beneficiaries named on those accounts. U.S. savings bonds, bank accounts and certificates of deposit can be made payable on death (POD) to a beneficiary. Transfer on Death (TOD) registrations for securities, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds are paid directly to named beneficiaries on those accounts.
Why review your beneficiary designations? At the time you buy life insurance or sign up for your 401(k) plan, you give considerable thought to your choice of beneficiaries. Over time those designations may change. You may have named your spouse at the time you signed up for your 401(k), but subsequently divorced. How would your current spouse feel upon learning that your ex is entitled to your 401(k)? Your passing is stressful enough without the added burden of a court battle. Takeaway: Review your beneficiary designations annually or if life events occur such as divorce, marriage, birth of a child and so on.
Why is a beneficiary necessary at all? Naming a beneficiary on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies allow those assets to pass directly to your named beneficiaries overriding your will and bypassing the probate process.
Avoid trouble down the road. Choosing a beneficiary is the easiest and most reliable way to leave loved ones money after you’re gone. Make sure your beneficiaries know they are listed as beneficiaries and that their current contact information is included. This will help you be sure your assets are dispersed how you wish.
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