Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Overlook Beneficiary Forms

When working with clients, I always advise them to obtain copies of the beneficiary forms that they have on file with financial institutions.  That includes: life insurance, retirement accounts, transfer on death cards with brokers, and pay on death cards with banks and credit unions.  Why do I do this?

First, the designation on the beneficiary form controls.  A will does not override beneficiary designations.  I want my clients to make sure the forms say what they think they say.  If not, it's time for an update.

Second, having a copy of the beneficiary form is a good road map to leave.  If someone dies and there are copies of forms for various accounts, life is easier for the personal representative.  It will save time and money.

And third, you don't want to count on the financial institution to keep an accurate record of your designations.  Companies can and do misplace forms.  Take responsibility and keep a paper copy.  Yes, we live in a digital age, but paper is still powerful in the legal system.

Remember, a blog is not a lawyer.  Please consult an attorney in your area to obtain counsel to your specific situation.  Thanks for reading!

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