In Texas and elsewhere, the decisions that one makes regarding estate planning are important and they may carry significant consequences. That is why it is always better to have an experienced estate planning attorney as a key part of one’s planning team. As always, when doing an important thing it is better to be safe than sorry.
That maxim may be more applicable and important to estate planning than perhaps any other related topic. Choose carefully and select an attorney with the intention of having a lifelong relationship. The assistance and protection becomes far more gratifying when the relationship is one of understanding and caring.
One of the many issues that one can discuss with the attorney is one’s choice of who the beneficiaries are in the several different areas where these choices must be made. Remember to make a distinction between estate beneficiaries and those that are listed on retirement accounts, life insurance policies and some investment accounts. Remember also that the maker of the will or the owner of the policy or fund can always change the beneficiary if times and minds change.
The beneficiary named in a life insurance policy, an investment account, a retirement fund and other accounts, is the person who will inherit directly and not through one’s estate. These policies must therefore be monitored closely and checked each year around this time. Make sure that events like divorces, deaths or remarriages have not made a beneficiary choice the wrong person to inherit.
The same applies to the will, which means that the testator can change the will at any time that the beneficiary designations are seen to be obsolete. Keeping that close relationship with the attorney may be helpful in reviewing these matters on a regular basis. There are several tax considerations that are associated with certain retirement accounts, including the need to roll them over when necessary. There are many more of these kinds of estate planning decisions under Texas and federal law. They will be best made by maintaining one’s personal diligence and always seeking a professional’s help where appropriate.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Naming a Beneficiary“, Jan. 17, 2017