by Wesley Anderson
Life changes such as birth, marriage, and death are inevitable. And when changes occur, your current beneficiary choices — who will inherit your life insurance, pension, IRAs, etc. — may need to be updated.
Take time now to review your beneficiaries. You should select both primary and contingent beneficiaries. Contingent beneficiaries will inherit if the primary beneficiaries precede you in death. If you name your spouse as beneficiary, you can avoid income and estate taxes. Additionally, your spouse can roll over your retirement account to his or her own IRA.
Without living beneficiaries, your assets may be transferred to your estate and state law determines who receives it. The presumption is that the heirs named in your will should receive the proceeds, but this could be challenged as beneficiary designations may supersede your will. For example, if you name your best friend as beneficiary, forget to change the designation when your friend dies, and you later die, your friend’s spouse or children could claim the asset.
While you are updating your beneficiary forms, be sure to also look at other critical but often forgotten documents such as power of attorney, health care proxy, and safe deposit box co-signer form.