When you pass away, what you leave to your loved ones is important, but so too is how you leave those assets. Making certain that you leave the right assets to the right beneficiaries, is a critical element of effective estate planning.
Forbes’ recent article, “Pass On Your Assets Wisely: How To Choose The Right Beneficiaries,” examines several common asset types and considerations to be taken when naming beneficiaries.
Life insurance. These proceeds can be paid to the beneficiaries quickly. After proof of death is established, the funds are paid. Think about heirs who may need ready access to funds after you pass. That’s usually not a minor child. However, if you do name a child, you must designate a guardian or place the proceeds in trust. Otherwise, the state may take control and assign a stranger to manage the money on your child’s behalf.
Assets in a Will. When you pass away, your will is going to be probated, and the assets can’t be distributed until the probate process is complete. Because of this, be sure the beneficiary of any property or assets specified in the will is in a position to wait. You can also create a revocable living trust to hold those assets, so a trustee can distribute assets directly to beneficiaries without waiting to go through probate.
Retirement plans. When you select the beneficiaries for retirement plans, remember that it can result in tax implications. The younger the recipient, the longer their life expectancy, and the more time they will have to withdraw funds from the plans. That means the account can continue to grow tax-deferred. You can also name a trust as the beneficiary of a retirement plan, and the assets in the trust will be protected from creditors. A retirement plan inherited outside of a trust may not enjoy this protection. In addition, if a beneficiary is young, the trustee can make distributions under conditions that you state when you create the trust.
Last, be certain the beneficiaries named in your retirement and other financial accounts are consistent with your estate plan. A beneficiary designation of your 401(k) plan supersedes anything in your will.
Reference: Forbes (May 30, 2017) “Pass On Your Assets Wisely: How To Choose The Right Beneficiaries”