It can be surprising how many of our financial accounts have beneficiary designations on them. After you have spent all that time and energy putting your will together, it’s important to also remember to check your beneficiaries on all of your accounts to make sure they are up to date with your wishes. It’s one of the first things we talked about at our consultation. But with all of the things going on when we put our wills together, this can slip through the cracks.

Remember: Your Beneficiary Designations Trump Your Will

After you spent all that time on your will, you don’t want it to be undermined by old beneficiary designations. Maybe you were married to someone else at the time. Or maybe you weren’t married at all and you named your sibling. Whatever the reason, these can fall through the cracks pretty easily.

It’s Been 3 Months Since You Signed Your Will

If it’s been a few months since you signed your will, now is a good time to check your accounts. If there have been no other major changes in your life, this should take about 5 – 10 minutes. You should have your important documents together in one place and can easily confirm who you designated. Once you’ve checked them, you can put everything away and go on with your day.

If you see that something needs to be changed, then you can get on that task right away. It should only take a few minutes to call the institution or download the new form to fill out and send back. Those few minutes are time well spent and can save a lot of headache down the road.

If You Forgot, There’s More Time To Check

Even if it’s been more than 3 months, you can always check on your beneficiary designations. I’ve read some experts who say you should check them every 3 – 5 years. The other “expert” advice is to check them after any major life event (marriage, divorce, birth or death). But when major life events happen, how many people immediately think

“I should check my beneficiary designations!”

So rather than try to remember to do your checks when life throws an event at you, it’s safer to have a schedule to check them on. Don’t worry, if you’re one of my clients, you’ll be getting plenty of reminders from me. You’ll also probably be getting similarly timed reminders from your financial advisor as well.

Next Steps

If you haven’t checked your beneficiary designations since you signed your will then now is the perfect time to do it. And if you think that things have changed in life and you may want to update your will as well, call my office to set up a meeting and we can review the best options for you – (877) AMAYERS.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.