Beneficiary forms are an easy way to transfer your assets to your loved ones. It is an expensive way to save your assets from getting stuck in probate. But if you do not fill them out correctly or you don’t change them when a life event happens, it can cause a big headache for your survivors.
A dear friend told me about her boyfriend’s father, Bob* Senior, a dedicated professor who poured his heart into his work and saved diligently for the future. His life was intertwined with his son, Bob Jr, and a companion who shared his home for over a decade after the passing of Bob Jr’s mom.
Bob Senior, driven by hard work, paid for the house while his devoted companion took charge of updates and decorations. It was a harmonious partnership, or so it seemed.
Tragically, when Bob Senior’s time came, his loved ones faced a financial nightmare.
Why? Because the beneficiary forms on his accounts were outdated, and there was a critical detail he overlooked – accounting for his companion’s significant contributions.
In the early days, when Bob Senior purchased a sizable life insurance policy, he designated Bob Jr and his wife, Mary, as equal 50% beneficiaries. However, life took its course, and Bob Jr’s marriage ended, and Bob Sr. did not hear from Mary again.
Bob Senior’s life insurance, retirement plans, and financial accounts retained these outdated designations, creating a misalignment with his current wishes. The consequences were profound. His family struggled with precious time lost and unexpected expenses, unraveling the financial legacy he had worked tirelessly to build.
Moreover, Bob Senior’s oversight left his devoted companion without a home and lacking the means to rebuild her life.
The Takeaway: Update Your Beneficiary Forms Regularly
Bob Senior’s story underscores a vital lesson in estate planning. Regularly updating beneficiary forms is not just a task; it’s a responsibility to ensure your intentions align with your current circumstances.
Beneficiary Designation Checklist:
-Review and update beneficiaries regularly.
-Consider the impact of life changes on designations.
-Keep beneficiary designations current.
-Reflect on changes in family dynamics.
-Confirm the accuracy of beneficiaries.
-Account for contributions from significant others
It is always important to communicate with people when you have made changes. This will ensure all parties are aware of any changes.
We always suggest you seek professional guidance to ensure that your beneficiary forms align with your legacy values. They can help you inform you of any complex family situation that you may want to consider and provide information about any possible tax implications.
Bob Senior’s legacy serves as a poignant reminder that a well-crafted estate plan evolves with life’s twists and turns. Don’t be a Bob Senior; update your beneficiary forms regularly to safeguard your legacy and the well-being of those you care about.
I am always here to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to book a free 15 minute consult call at www.scionlawfirm.com/schedule.