When was the last time you reviewed your beneficiary designations? There are many accounts such as IRAs, company-sponsored retirement plans, life insurance policies, and annuities that comprise a large portion of your estate. A comprehensive review of them can put your mind at ease and ensure that your assets go exactly to whom you wish.

Many clients think that their will can handle those decisions making it easier for their heirs. What they fail to realize is that relying solely on a will, forces those assets to be tied up in the probate courts. Instead of making things easier, they have made it harder for their heirs to sort through their estate.

Recently, we had a client whose father passed away, leaving a sizable estate to his 5 children. While he may have been financially savvy with his investments, he neglected to designate beneficiaries on several of his IRA accounts, leaving them to his estate instead. Our client has been dealing with the probate courts going on 9 months now with no resolution in sight.

Since we are not attorneys, and do not we give legal advice, we always recommend clients speak to an attorney to identify the best way to handle their estate. Many times, a trust can be established to ensure your wishes are carried out after you have passed away. It takes the burden off your loved ones who are likely dealing with grief.

But back to those accounts. Check on those beneficiaries. Nothing could be worse than your ex-wife inheriting the IRA account that your wife was expecting. Do your due diligence and check to make sure you have named beneficiaries, and that those originally named beneficiaries are still the people you want to inherit your assets.