As you stay safe at home and worry about everything occurring in 2020 that is completely out of your control, make today the day you tackle your beneficiary designations. Something that you can control.
Let me tell you why.
As an estate planning attorney of 15 years, I’ve seen hundreds of families deal with the death of a loved one. I’ve seen firsthand how helpful it is for loved ones when a spouse or parent took the right steps when they were alive and well and tackled the mundane tasks. In our normal day-to-day, we don’t think death will happen to us. But in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re all becoming acutely aware of our own mortality and many of us are asking ourselves questions we wouldn’t normally ask. I encourage you to ask yourself, “if I do get sick, how can I best help the people I love now, while I’m still healthy?”
Here is my suggestion for today’s to do list:
Make sure every financial asset you have has as place to go.
Make sure each online bank account, each credit union account, each life insurance policy and every retirement account has a properly designated payable on death beneficiary that works for you and your desires.
And even better yet, if you have a Trust, make sure that you understand what should be in your trust and what should remain with designated beneficiaries. This is a great time to review and ensure things are handled the way you intend!
Time and time again I have to counsel clients in my office about how they have to open probate because their loved one did not designate any beneficiary or follow trust vesting instructions for the workplace life insurance policy, the rollover IRA they inherited or the online bank account.
Probate is costly. Probate is expensive. And in California probate usually takes a year or more from start to finish (especially now due to COVID-19). All just because the beneficiary designation forms were not obtained, completed, signed and dashed off back to the financial institution or the employer to put on file. These places cannot fill in these forms for you and if you have died, it is too late. They have to instruct you to proceed with probate.
I opened probate last year for a very large online account (it was valued over $6million!) and the wife lamented that her husband never got around to updating their beneficiary designation with the online bank. If that does not make you go online right now to update things, not sure what will!
Need help? Contact TLD Law to take care of your estate planning needs. We have estate planning attorneys that are here to assist in both our Long Beach, and Irvine, California offices.