Livens & Reed, PLLC

Review of beneficiaries is critical step in estate planning

Estate planning is a process that enables Texas residents and others around the nation to specify exactly how they would like to distribute their assets after they have passed away. A person's estate plan may consist of only a will or be more complex with different types of trusts involved. Regardless of its complexities, a basic step in any plan is naming beneficiaries. Experts stress the importance of making thorough and ongoing reviews to ensure that one's beneficiary designations are up to date in all documents included in an estate plan.

Financial planners note that everything belonging to an individual will be passed on by either title, will or contract. For example, if a husband and wife both have their names titled on an account, the surviving spouse would own it if the other died. A will establishes how assets that are not specified by contract or title will be distributed.

Contracts are established for such investments as pensions, retirement plans or insurance policies. For each of these, beneficiaries must be designated to reflect how the asset will be divided. Many people fail to either designate a beneficiary at all or neglect updating them if life events occur. Experts recommend making a list of every account that requires naming beneficiaries.

When all the accounts have been identified, it is important to name both primary and contingent beneficiaries. In most cases, percentages can be allotted for each beneficiary. Someone may also choose to designate a trust as the beneficiary instead of a person.

While naming beneficiaries is an important part of any estate planning process, many individuals do not even have a will in place. A Texas attorney familiar with estate administration can be of valuable assistance in preparing an estate plan. An experienced lawyer will help clients put documents in place that will provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing their wishes will be carried out as desired after they pass away.

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