It’s sometimes difficult to determine exactly to whom you’d like to leave your assets when you die. But with retirement plans, IRA accounts, annuities, and life insurance policies, you also need to make sure you leave assets to your intended beneficiaries in the way you intended. By correctly completing your beneficiary designations for these accounts—sometimes with the help of your Wealth Advisor and your estate attorney–you can avoid these potential problems:
· Having assets pulled back into a federally taxable estate–and wasting money on legal services that may have never been correctly implemented.
· Accelerating the taxation of qualified retirement plans or IRAs by having them payable to your estate.
· Leaving assets to the wrong people – such as ex-spouses, deceased parents, or siblings with whom you no longer maintain a relationship.
Designating Beneficiaries Correctly
Once you’ve identified to whom to leave your assets, it’s important to indicate those choices correctly on beneficiary designation forms. For instance, if you have children from multiple marriages and your goal is to leave more to one set of kids versus another, you definitely don’t want your designation to be overly broad, indicating just “My Children.”
Also, you may have good reasons to identify a trust as the beneficiary of an account. Maybe you want specific distribution terms or your children are still minors. However, sometimes by simply indicating “My Estate” as a beneficiary,you lose important planning flexibility you could have enjoyed if you had instead named individuals or a trust. Also, be sure that your primary and contingent beneficiaries are named appropriately, especially if you have multiple primary beneficiaries.
Review & Amend As Needed
If you undergo a significant life change, that’s often a good time to review or change beneficiary designations. Life changes might include marriage, divorce, or the death of a family member who was a named beneficiary.You may also leave different types of non-liquid assets (i.e., homes or businesses) to certain beneficiaries through your will, and that may require you to periodically amend percentage distributions on invested assets or insurance policies.
Another example: The financial status of your beneficiaries may change for the better, and you may decide to instead leave your assets to charity. Finally, tax law changes could motivate you to script a custom beneficiary designation, through your attorney, that would actually allow beneficiaries to disclaim certain assets you leave for them.
As you can see, beneficiary designations are not something to “set and forget.” Take time to review them periodically and determine—with the advice of your RegentAtlantic Wealth Advisor and Estate attorney—whether any updates are in order.
Important disclosure information
Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the loss of money invested. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including the investments or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by RegentAtlantic Capital, LLC (“RegentAtlantic”) will be profitable.
Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request.
This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This article is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.
RegentAtlantic does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with a legal and or tax professional of your choosing prior to implementing any of the strategies discussed in this article.