When reviewing your estate plan, you will likely focus on making sure your will or trust’s provisions are current. Yet, you will also want to check the beneficiary designations on any payable on death (POD) bank accounts or life insurance policies you hold. And you will want to do so, too, with any of your retirement or investment accounts that will transfer on death (TOD).
Keeping your designations current can ensure your accounts and policies pass along to the right people. Making sure you have filled them out can keep your property out of probate.
Keeping your property out of probate
You will want to make sure that you have named beneficiaries to your POD and TOD accounts and policies. If you leave your beneficiary designations blank, these become probate assets.
For your beneficiaries to take ownership, though, they must present a copy of your death certificate and a valid government ID to the institutions holding these assets. So long as they do so, your POD and TOD accounts and policies will transfer to them and avoid probate.
Keeping your property in the right hands
You may have designated a beneficiary to your POD and TOD accounts and policies who is no longer part of your life. This person may be a former spouse or possibly a relative who passed away or who you have become estranged from. No matter the situation, you will want to update your designations to reflect these changes. By failing to do so, your accounts and policies may pass along to someone you would like to keep them away from – or who cannot inherit them.
Beneficiary designations may seem like a trifling matter. But, failing to update them can lead to serious consequences once you pass away. By treating them with the same vigilance as the rest of your estate plan, you can make sure your accounts and policies end up in the right hands.