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Beneficiary designations: often important, often overlooked

One reason why many prudent California estate planners forgo executing do-it-yourself contracts and forms is their uncertainty as to whether such documents are tightly tailored and comprehensively address their unique planning needs.

Likely, they don’t, which is an oft-demonstrated fact that prominently emerges when it comes times to settle an estate. Concededly, over-the-counter boilerplate offerings are sometimes sufficient tools for responding to straightforward and generic issues. The real-life intricacies involved in most plans, though, demand close attention from a proven professional to be fully identified, optimally dealt with and periodically updated as required.

We note that planning reality on our website at the established Bay Area estate planning Law Offices of Connie Yi. One point we especially underscore concerns beneficiary designations, specifically the inadequate attention they often receive from individuals and families during the planning process who focus narrowly on will drafting and a few core asset-linked matters.

We emphasize this point concerning beneficiary designations: “Policies and accounts that pass automatically upon death are also an important part of estate planning that should be carefully considered.”

Just think about it. Most people have one or more financial accounts that list beneficiaries. Those range from pensions and retirement vehicles to savings accounts and insurance policies.

When a planner passes, those accounts are settled according to their specified terms, without regard to will specifics or the probate process. That can promote ease and simplicity for both a planner and beneficiaries, but it can also engender confusion and misapplied intention in cases where designations are not appropriately specified or updated.

Beneficiary designations are a topic that experienced legal counsel will unquestionably visit with a client during the planning process. Paying due attention to beneficiary accounts can ensure that planning objectives are optimally promoted.

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