In all the top 10 New Year’s resolution lists I’ve seen, “reviewing your beneficiaries” has never made the list. While you may not experience the same instant gratification as losing those last 10 pounds, it’s a simple enough process with significant benefits for your loved ones in the future.
Your choices may need to change with the times
While your beneficiary choices may have seemed obvious and rock-solid when you initially made them, time has a way of altering things.
- When did you open your first IRA?
- When did you buy your life insurance policy?
- Are you still living in the same home and working at the same job?
- Have your priorities changed a bit – perhaps more than a bit?
In a stretch of five or ten years, some major changes can occur in your life – and they may warrant changes in your beneficiary decisions. In fact, you might want to review them annually.
How your choices affect your loved ones
The beneficiary of your IRA, annuity, 401(k) or life insurance policy may be your spouse, your child, maybe another loved one or maybe even an institution. Many people do not realize that beneficiary designations take priority over bequests made in a will or living trust. Naming a beneficiary helps to keep assets out of probate when you pass away.
You may have even chosen the “smartest financial mind” in your family as your beneficiary, thinking that he or she has the knowledge to carry out your financial wishes in the event of your death. But what if this person passes away before you do? What if you change your mind about the way you want your assets distributed, and are unable to communicate your intentions in time? And what if he or she inherits tax problems as a result of receiving your assets?
Are your beneficiary designations up to date?
Don’t assume. Don’t guess. Make sure your assets are set to transfer to the people or institutions you prefer. If you’re not certain you understand all the possible ramifications of your selections, you may want to reach out to a qualified Financial Professional for guidance.
Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women. As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.