The decision about how to designate beneficiaries for your company retirement plan, life insurance policies, and other assets might seem like a no-brainer. If you are like most people, you would like those near and dear to you to inherit any money you have accumulated during your lifetime. But naming beneficiaries is more critical now than ever, and the repercussions for making mistakes can have a significant affect on your loved ones.

In part, what makes a beneficiary designation desirable is that upon death the assets can pass directly to the person (or trust) you designate as a substitute to your will. Done correctly, the assets won’t have to go through probate, a lengthy, costly and public process. The value of naming beneficiaries, however, can too easily be lost if your beneficiaries are out of date, misnamed or misdirected.

How Epiphany Law Can Help

The consequences of incorrect beneficiary designations can be harsh. The experienced attorneys at Epiphany Law understand the nuances of the law, and can help ensure your hard-earned retirement assets are transferred how you designate, with minimal tax consequences.

When Major life events occur, like marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or the death of a loved one, beneficiary designations should be revisited and updated so your wishes are protected. Epiphany Law can help.

Questions and Answers

Q. How do I name or change a beneficiary?

A. Typically you name a beneficiary when you set up various financial accounts, and change a beneficiary when certain life events occur or you otherwise wish. Naming or changing a beneficiary requires your original signature on the correct beneficiary form. Talk to an attorney and your financial advisor for more information.

Q. What if I forgot to name a beneficiary?

A. If you forgot to name a beneficiary on a financial account, now is the time to make the designation! There are different consequences depending on your particular situation, such as increased taxes. If you fail to name a beneficiary, the proceeds could be paid to to your estate (and not directly to the person), and thus increase estate taxes or open probate unintentionally.

Q. Who should I name as my beneficiary?

A. Deciding on a beneficiary will depend on your specific circumstances. In many cases beneficiaries are children or other family members and loved ones. In appropriate circumstances, charities or other entities can serve as beneficiaries. If you have questions about what beneficiary to name, contact an estate planning attorney.