In our last blog, Adam Burns presented the importance of having a current will in place so that your assets will be distributed and loved ones cared for according to your wishes. A will is a critical document to have, but did you know you have the power to override your will? This could be done intentionally, which could be good planning, or by accident, which could be a disaster.
So, picture this. You’ve met with an attorney and done some good planning. Your will has been drafted. You’ve even met with your attorney every several years to have your will updated as the law changes or your situation changes. Everything is just the way you want it, and you expect that your wishes will be carried out exactly as stated in your will, right? Perhaps…perhaps not. Financial assets such as life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts, and some types of non-retirement accounts all have the ability to pass to specific people or entities outside your will.
In the event of death, any assets that pass through the will get distributed according to your stated wishes; however, beneficiary designations actually supersede what is written in your will. It’s amazing to think that we could derail our best laid plans by not coordinating our beneficiary designations with our will. For many people some of their largest assets are in retirement account and life insurance death benefits that would be paid to the beneficiaries listed on these accounts and policies.
It is important to discuss your primary and contingent beneficiary designations with your attorney on accounts that override your will to make sure the beneficiaries listed on these types of accounts are in line with the wishes stated in your will. Then, if necessary, contact your financial institutions to find out their process to update your account beneficiaries. For your accounts serviced at Master’s, we’ve made the process easy for you. Once we have the required beneficiary information, we prepare the paperwork, you sign the paperwork, we track each request, and we follow-up on each account to make sure your beneficiaries are updated according to your wishes.