An up-to-date will is an important first step. However, a will alone can't control how all property is distributed. Life insurance policies, retirement plan accounts and certain other assets may allow you to designate a beneficiary. Read on for specific details.
Retirement plan accounts. Married? Unless your spouse signs the required consent waiving his or her rights to your plan assets, you are generally required to name your spouse as the primary beneficiary of your qualified plan account. If you name your spouse as beneficiary of your retirement plan and later divorce that spouse, they may still be entitled to receive your retirement plan assets (when you die) if you fail to change your beneficiary designation. Be sure to update your beneficiary designation when there has been a major life event, such as marriage, divorce, or the death of a named beneficiary.
Life insurance proceeds. When you first buy a life insurance policy, you name a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive the proceeds upon your death. No matter what you verbally promise, the proceeds of your life insurance policies will generally be paid to the beneficiary or beneficiaries designated in your policy.
Other assets. Other assets also may pass through beneficiary designations. For example, you may be able to designate a beneficiary to exercise possible stock options available after your death. Plus, if you bought company stock through an employee stock purchase plan, you may be able to designate a beneficiary for that stock.
Where to start? A regular review of your will and your beneficiary designations not only ensures your wishes are fulfilled, but can help maintain family peace and harmony. Feel free to reach out to BECU Trust Services with any questions, or to schedule a complimentary consultation: (206) 812-5176 or (800) 233-2328 ext. 5176.
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