Knowing when to change beneficiaries is an important part of estate planning.
Your job isn’t necessarily over once you create an estate plan. This is because changes in your life should spark a fresh look at the plan. Knowing the appropriate times to do that is important, according to the Aiken Standard in "On the Money: Don't disinherit your loved ones."
Some of the appropriate times are:
- If you get divorced or remarried, then review your accounts to make sure you are not leaving things to an ex-spouse or that your new spouse is included.
- If you get a new employer and roll over your old account, then make sure that the new account accurately reflects your wishes.
- If the primary beneficiary on your accounts passes away, then you obviously need to make changes.
- If the financial institutions you have the accounts with change ownership, review your beneficiary designations to make sure the new company has everything recorded properly.
- If you have a new child or grandchild, consult your estate attorney about including them and whether they should be named as beneficiaries.
- If a beneficiary becomes disabled, you should talk to an attorney about creating a special needs trust. Keeping them as a beneficiary could make them ineligible for some needed government benefits.
Reference: Aiken Standard (Dec. 10, 2016) "On the Money: Don't disinherit your loved ones."