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Are Your Designated Heirs Up-to-Date?

The end of the year is a time when families often gather together. Although these gatherings may keep you busy, this could be a good time to think about the future and make sure that you have correctly designated family members and any others you wish as beneficiaries in your will, insurance policies, and financial accounts.

This is especially important if there have been changes in your life, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, a death in the family, a divorce, or a remarriage. But even if your family situation remains the same, it’s a good idea to review your beneficiary designations to be sure they are complete and reflect your current wishes.

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Beneficiary Forms May Override Your Will

A will is an essential legal document for designating your heirs and facilitating distribution of your assets if your estate goes through the probate process. However, the assets in most investment accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies convey directly to the people named on the beneficiary forms — even if they are different from the people named in your will — and do not go through probate.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to designate or change your account beneficiaries. A will may incur costs to update, but a new beneficiary designation form can be filed with the appropriate financial institution or insurance company. Here are some issues to consider.

  • Your current spouse must be the beneficiary of an employer-sponsored retirement plan unless he or she waives that right in writing. Without a waiver, any children from a previous marriage might not receive account proceeds.
  • Designate secondary (contingent) beneficiaries in the event that the primary beneficiaries predecease you. Otherwise, proceeds would be distributed according to the default method specified in the account documents and/or state law.
  • Some insurance policies, pension plans, and retirement accounts may not pay death benefits to minors. If you want to leave money to young children, you should designate a guardian or a trust as beneficiary.

The use of trusts involves complex tax rules and regulations. Consider the counsel of an experienced estate planning professional and your legal and tax advisers before implementing such strategies.

 

Information provided has been prepared from Broadridge Advisor Solutions sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Broadridge Advisor Solutions is not an affiliate of AXA Advisors, LLC. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation. Neither AXA Advisors nor any of the data provided by AXA Advisors or its content providers, such as Broadridge Advisor Solutions, shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for the actions taken in reliance therein. By accessing the AXA Advisors website, a user agrees to abide by the terms and conditions of the site including not redistributing the information found therein.

Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC. Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries.

Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC (212-314-4600), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory products and services offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, an investment advisor registered with the SEC. Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC and its insurance agency subsidiaries. AXA Network, LLC does business in California as AXA Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC and, in Utah, AXA Network Insurance Agency of Utah, LLC. AXA Advisors and its affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals may transact business and/or respond to inquiries only in state(s) in which they are properly registered and/or licensed. The information in this web site is not investment or securities advice and does not constitute an offer.

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