Which of My Accounts Need Beneficiary Designations?

Your will is the basic document in which you can name who you want to become guardian of your minor children and who you’d like to receive assets inside your estate. However, a will does not encompass all of the different assets in your estate and therefore you must think more broadly and ensure that other accounts have beneficiary designation forms completed.

The most common accounts that require you to name a person or people who will inherit the account value when you pass away include:

  • Life insurance policies.
  • Retirement accounts, such as Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, 457 plans, 403(b) plans and 401(k) plans.
  • Pension plans.
  • Annuity contracts.
  • Non-retirement accounts known as payable on death or transfer on death.

A big reason to ensure that these are completed is that they take precedence over what is named in your will and these beneficiary designation accounts avoid the legal probate process. So long as your beneficiaries have been appropriately designated, the transfer of assets to your loved ones will be much quicker and simpler.

Make sure that you consider the process of naming a contingent beneficiary which is the person or people eligible to receive these assets in the event that your first chosen beneficiary is not able to receive them. The most common situation in which this happens is when the primary beneficiary passes away prior to your estate plan documents being updated.

Learn more about the estate planning process by setting up a time to speak with our office about your needs.


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