Beneficiary designations are an important, yet often overlooked, planning item that should be reviewed on a regular basis. Having the correct, and most up to date, beneficiaries named on your various accounts could mean the difference in having your assets going to the right people or the wrong ones.
Many of the accounts, especially investment accounts, we maintain either have beneficiaries attached or have the ability for us to add them. Some of the most common account types that have beneficiaries are IRA’s, retirement plans, and insurance policies. It is key to review all of your accounts and their beneficiaries on an annual basis or when a life event occurs, whichever happens first. Life events that would prompt you to review your beneficiaries, keep in mind that this does not outline all instances, would be marriage, divorce, birth of a child, and death.
As a firm, we look to review beneficiary designations with our clients at least semiannually or when a client alerts us to a major life event. The last thing you would want to happen is having your assets go to a parent instead of your spouse, an ex-spouse instead of your children or current spouse, only one of your children, or even having to go through probate because you did not name a beneficiary.
Many of the pitfalls that surround beneficiary designations can be avoided with proper planning. The key is to first have a process to review these designations regularly. In addition, it would be advisable to have your financial advisor, tax and estate planning professionals on the same page to make sure these designations are structured properly for your specific situation. It takes a team approach to make sure that your financial future is being planned for properly. In many instances we take the lead and coordinate the team of professionals to review, update, confirm and implement the beneficiary designations for the client.
Beneficiary designations tend to be a topic many do not want to talk about as it puts our own mortality in perspective. The fact is that we will all need to face this reality at one point or another, so why not have your proper designations in place. Could you imagine the faces of your children if your assets went to your parent and/or ex-spouse? This is what proper planning can help prevent.
Be sure to check the latest Mitlin Minute to learn more about beneficiary designation review. We welcome the opportunity to review your own beneficiary designations, if you are unsure how they are structured or think they require an update. Feel free to give us a call at (631) 952-4466 x13 and allow Mitlin Financial, Inc. to facilitate your financial future!