I’m Lori McKee, financial planner at Hovis & Associates. An important estate planning step for anyone with a bank account or investment account is naming your beneficiaries. However, once you’ve done this, it doesn’t mean that you can forget about it. Things change: people get married, get divorced, have babies, or pass away. I recommend that clients review their beneficiaries each year, or sooner, if they experience major life changes.
Sadly, we’ve seen examples of clients with good intentions that never acted upon them. A few years ago, a client called to request a beneficiary change to his IRA. Up until that point, his estate was the only beneficiary listed. Now, he wanted only his daughter to inherit his assets. To process his request, we told him we would need him to sign a beneficiary change form. He said he would stop by later that day or the next, because he had surgery scheduled for later that week. As you can probably guess, he never stopped in to sign the form. He passed away a few days later at the hospital leaving his account to go through the probate courts and be divided according to the state statute, which was not his wishes.
More recently, we had a client inherit some assets from her father. While her dad was savvy with investing his money, he neglected to review his beneficiaries and left several accounts to his estate. Again, what would have been a simple process of splitting the assets among his beneficiaries resulted in the accounts going through the probate courts and a long, drawn out process.
Another time during a meeting, we reminded a client that his ex-wife was still listed on his retirement account. That certainly got his attention. He didn’t realize that he never updated his beneficiaries. Needless to say, he completed and signed a beneficiary change form to correct this very quickly.
The moral of these stories is…….Make sure you plan ahead so your assets go to the people you intend. While we can’t offer tax or legal advice, we do recommend that you review your beneficiaries often on your IRA or retirement accounts and make adjustments as your life changes. Add a TOD or transfer on death designation to non-qualified, checking, and savings accounts. That way you’ll rest easier knowing this piece of your estate plan is in order. Check us out on Hovisandassociates.com or on social media. Until next time….