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Changing your beneficiaries may mean changing your will

If you have already prepared your will, you probably think that part of your job is over, so you go on to something else, believing there is no reason to think about things like wills anymore.

Not so fast. Sooner or later, you will probably find that you should add, remove or replace one or more beneficiaries to your will with someone else.

Reasons for change

There are many reasons for needing to update your will. For one thing, someone you named to inherit a certain kind of property, such as your rare stamp collection, may not be at all interested, so you need to replace that beneficiary with a better match. Ill will may have formed between you and another beneficiary, so you want to remove that person’s name from the document. On the other hand, perhaps you had another child since you drew up your will, or another grandchild. These would likely be new beneficiaries add in.

Avoiding probate

When you die, your will is likely to go to probate, the legal process for reviewing your assets and settling your estate. However, in general, any asset you have in which you have named a beneficiary will not have to go through probate. Such assets include retirement accounts, such as your IRA or 401(k), or an investment account that bears the transfer on death or TOD designation. Accounts like these will only be subject to probate if you have failed to name beneficiaries.

Keeping current

Once the court verifies your will, the executor you have chosen will be in charge of administering your estate according to your wishes. In so doing, he or she will make sure not to leave out any of your beneficiaries. Always keep changes in mind. If you remarry, for example, do not forget to add your new spouse as an heir in your will. An estate planning attorney will tell you how important it is to make sure all your beneficiaries are present and accounted for.




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