What Happens When a Beneficiary Designation is Different from the Will?

Estate planning documents should be coordinated to ensure that your overall goals are accomplished. However, if you identify beneficiary designations on forms that are not in line with what is made in the will, it can be very confusing for your estate administrator to determine.

This unfortunate situation is sadly not that unusual. Plenty of parents make different distributions in their wills when compared with traditional beneficiary designations on their account and it can be very problematic for heirs to figure out what the deceased individual really had in mind. Beneficiary designations are binding, in a technical sense.

This is one reason why it is so important to ensure that your will is updated as well as your beneficiary designation forms. Based on changes in your life, you will need to update these materials on an as needed basis.

When you open a life insurance policy, a brokerage account, or another form of retirement account that asks for a beneficiary designation, you need to complete this form and keep it updated and accurate.

This is because it does have preference in the estate and will be the only legal documentation that the company in question has in terms of passing on those assets to your chosen parties. If one of your beneficiaries passes away or you add another child to the family, you’ll want to contact the company managing those accounts to discuss updating your materials.

Schedule a consultation with a dedicated CA estate planning lawyer today to learn more about this process and what to do moving forward. If you need to update your beneficiary designation forms, it’s a good idea to add this to your calendar as a regular reminder.

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