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Beneficiary Designations: An Important Part of Your Estate Plan

Keeping beneficiary designations up to date is a very important part of estate planning but it can sometimes get overlooked or forgotten in the process.  In order to avoid potential disagreements and even legal battles in the future, ensure that you review your beneficiary designations on a regular basis to make sure they are current and that they reflect your wishes.

Even if you have a will, you still need to have beneficiary designations on your retirement and life insurance accounts.  Your will does not cover these assets.  Make sure to check all your life insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities. 

Updating your beneficiary designations is just as important as creating an estate plan.  Too often we find that beneficiary designations are either out of date or missing completely which can cause disastrous problems.


Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of issues arising when it comes to beneficiary designation:

  1.  Take time to review your beneficiary designations on the following documents: bank accounts, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance policies.
  2.  Review these documents at least every 1-2 years and after any major life changes like marriage, divorce, death or the birth of a child. 
  3.  When major life events occur, update your beneficiary designations and estate plan accordingly.
  4.  Discuss your estate plan with your loved ones.  Being upfront about your wishes can help reduce the risk of disagreements and confusion.  Openly discussing your estate plan goals will ease the distribution process and reduce the risk of legal battles down the road.

How to Review your Beneficiary Designations

Checking your beneficiary designations simply involves contacting the account holder and making a request for a copy of your current beneficiary designation form.  If the beneficiary designation information on the form is incorrect, out of date or missing, you can request a change of beneficiary form.  Complete the change of beneficiary designation form and submit it to the account holder.  Be sure to include a copy of these forms with your estate planning documents so that your family members and loved ones are familiar with the beneficiary designations on your policies.


We cannot overstate the importance of reviewing and updating your estate plan and beneficiary designations on a regular basis and recommend that you take the time to review all your beneficiary designation forms with an experienced estate planning attorney.

To discuss your specific needs with one of our estate planning attorneys in Pittsburgh, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online

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