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Beneficiary designation key in the estate planning process

Florida residents who have questions regarding estate planning may be interested in learning about how important beneficiaries are to the entire process. Beneficiaries are important in the process of drawing up wills; however, they are also key as far as other documents are concerned, such as insurance policies and bank accounts.

Many people may view the will as the most important estate planning document; however, they may not realize that other documents may take precedence. It is necessary to understand that unless people change their intended beneficiaries on other documents, such as investment accounts, when they pass away they may unintentionally give their assets to those whom they do not wish to leave them. In other words, if people do not update their beneficiaries, their wishes may not be carried out in the manner in which they intended. All important life events, such as births, deaths or marriages should include beneficiary reviews in order to avoid assets being allocated incorrectly should one pass on.

People who opened accounts prior to marriage may have named people other than their spouses as beneficiaries, and unless they renamed their spouses as their beneficiaries, the original parties would still be the ones to inherit those assets. In addition, divorces do not negate former spouses as beneficiaries on investment accounts or insurance policies. Beneficiaries must be renamed as part of a separate process. Those who do not name beneficiaries on certain documents risk their assets being handed over to their estates, subjecting their heirs to higher taxes and expensive probate.

Many people want to do the best by their families, and often that includes leaving something behind once they pass. An attorney near Orlando who has an understanding of estate law may be able to offer options regarding asset allocation in order to aid people in making decisions that are more educated.

Source: The Valley Business Journal, "Beneficiary designations play a critical role in estate planning", Angela K. Sugimura, September 02, 2013

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