Getting your estate in order requires careful attention to details. Are you going to leave your assets outright to your wife and/or children or does establishing Trusts make more sense? How can you provide ongoing assistance for a child with special needs after you’re gone? If you have a business, how will you distribute the shares among your heirs? Who will you designate to be the Executor of your Will, the Trustee(s) for any Trusts you establish, the Guardian(s) for your young children? And the list goes on.
An important “to do”, but one that is sometimes overlooked, involves beneficiary designation forms. These forms should be completed for Retirement Savings Plans such as 401Ks and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), life insurance policies, and bank and brokerage accounts where applicable. Each company with whom you have such an account requires that you complete a beneficiary designation form. On this form you designate the party or parties who will inherit the assets in that specific account after you’re gone.
Beneficiary designation forms are very important. When people neglect to complete these forms, the corresponding assets may not pass to the intended beneficiaries. Additionally, with certain types of accounts, such as IRA’s, there may be negative tax implications if the beneficiary designation has not been properly completed. Problems may also arise in cases where people initially fill out these forms, but then neglect to update them as life circumstances change. For example, you may have designated your first wife as your beneficiary on your life insurance beneficiary designation form. However, you two have since divorced and you have remarried. Do you still want your first wife to inherit your life insurance after your gone? If the answer is “no”, then you need to update your life insurance beneficiary designation form with your current information!
You want to get it right when you do estate planning. Be sure that the information you include on your beneficiary designation forms is consistent with the way you structured your Will. Otherwise, there may be unintended consequences that do not reflect your wishes. Working with an estate planning attorney is an excellent way to help insure that your Will correctly reflects your wishes, and that all the necessary forms, including beneficiary designation forms, are completed, updated as needed, and consistent with the terms of your will.
Getting Legal Help
Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga Goodman, can help you understand the various alternatives in estate planning and the numerous issues that need to be addressed. She can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that best reflects your wishes and the needs of your loved ones. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.
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