If you haven’t recently checked your beneficiary designation in a while, it might be a smart move to make, especially if you’ve recently made some major life changes like getting married or divorced in the last year or so. You may find that the person you chose in the past as your designated beneficiary is not who you would choose now. Also, if you’ve chosen a charity as your beneficiary, you should checkup on them to ensure they’re still an active charity or if they’re still a charity you want to support.
Who will be in Charge of Your Wealth?
In a recent article by Investment News found that 80% of beneficiary forms on IRA retirement accounts are either improperly filled out, outdated, or blank. Structuring your beneficiaries is one of the most important parts of the retirement process and since they trump marital laws, court orders, and wills. Designating beneficiaries is often overlooked because it generates no income for a financial advisor.
Don’t think that you have time to wait to designate beneficiaries either. Though you may have many decades left on your life, you shouldn’t leave loose end untied when it comes to who will receive your estate income after you pass away. If you would like, it’s possible to write customized beneficiary designations to encompass “what-if” situations. This means that if you designate someone as your primary beneficiary and something happens so that they are not able to take over management of your estate and investments, you can name a second beneficiary.
This is especially beneficial when naming a spouse a primary beneficiary. Proper documentation that designates successor beneficiaries for normal and extenuating circumstances will guarantee that the retirement account owner will decide who the successor beneficiary is.
Make your Beneficiary Your Priority
Naming a beneficiary isn’t a time consuming task, so it should be at the top of your list during estate planning. Changing a beneficiary is also relatively easy and in many cases the only things needed are the name, birthdate, and social security number. When either naming or reviewing your beneficiaries you can follow a basic checklist of things to accomplish.
First, check the defaults on your IRA because they will come into effect if your primary beneficiary precedes you and you don’t make the necessary changes. Next, look into the various tax implications of your choice of beneficiary. After this, you should request a confirmation of receipt of the designation from your IRA retirement account. If you’ve customized your beneficiary designation, have it checked over with the person, charity, or trust you’ve designated to ensure everything is in order. Finally, conduct a periodic review of your beneficiaries to make sure no changes are needed. If you would like, consult with your financial advisor to see if any changes would be in your best interest.