Change of Beneficiary

An Estate Planning Must

At the Law Offices of Steven M. Adler, PLLC, it is our job to fully educate clients on the various estate planning tools so they can create customized estate plans that meet all of their needs. Part of our responsibility includes continuously keeping estate plans up-to-date and anticipating problems before they arise.

Beneficiaries play a major role in the estate planning process, and with over 50 years of collective experience, we are qualified to help you better understand the importance of keeping your beneficiaries up-to-date.

What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person or a legal entity who receives proceeds from an estate, a trust, a life insurance policy, a retirement account, or a transfer on death account. Beneficiary designations are extremely important and play a major role in the estate planning process because they often control large portions of a client's wealth.

When to Review Your Beneficiary Designations

You should periodically review and update your beneficiaries whenever:

  • You experience a major life event such as a birth, death, or divorce.
  • You update your estate plan.
  • You roll over a 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Unfortunately, many of these beneficiary designations are created only once and they are tucked away in a drawer for safe keeping where they are long long-forgotten as the years go by. For instance, a person may designate their spouse as a beneficiary on their retirement account early in life and forgotten to update it years later after they divorced and remarried. While a state statute may save the day, other times it may not.

Discuss Your Case With a Long Island Estate Lawyer

If you have not taken a look recently at the beneficiaries on your bank, brokerage, life insurance, and company benefit plan, you should. While reviewing these documents are simple steps, it is amazing how often people fail to take these simple steps and the consequences for failing to change beneficiaries can be dire, especially if an ex-spouse happens to be your named beneficiary.

As a general rule, whoever is named on the most recent beneficiary form receives the money automatically when you pass, meaning beneficiary designations supersede wills.

Contact a Long Island estate planning attorney from our firm to learn more about our services and how we can help you!