Although your will and other estate planning documents can spell out your wishes, they might not cover everything. Beneficiary forms are used to designate who you wish to receive certain pieces of property when you pass away. Many of these pass outside of your will and can therefore, only be updated when you make changes to these forms.
The following four steps can help you accomplish these goals:
- Check your insurance and retirement accounts since these are the once that most frequently have beneficiary designations, which will outweigh what’s inside a will.
- Don’t leave any beneficiary sections on forms blank since this could mean that when the account goes through probate it will be distributed based on the state’s rules for who gets that property.
- If you forget the beneficiaries that you’ve named on accounts or policies created many years ago, you’ll want to make sure that you update these on an annual basis.
- Name contingent beneficiaries. These are people who will receive the assets inside the account if your primary beneficiary passes away before you do and you are not able to update the primary beneficiary designation.
Do you need help with this or other aspects of your estate plan? Contact a New Jersey estate planning lawyer to get a personalized walkthrough of your current plan and to start the process of defining your new goals and intentions.