Beneficiary Designation Forms

Your will does many things, but any asset that has a beneficiary designation form, such as a life insurance policy, annuity, IRA, etc., does not pass through your will.

Instead, those assets with a beneficiary form pass directly to the specified benefiary, and the will does not control in those situations.

What are the implications of this for your estate plan? All too often, families have not given serious thought to fairness and equality in distributing assets and personal property. For example, in your will, you leave 50% to Child A and 50% to Child B. But you have a large life insurance policy that you purchased before Child B was born, and Child A is the sole beneficiary. As a result, the distribution of your estate is unequal.

The example above is a simple one, but many plans have more assets, family members and gray areas. You should speak with a qualified estate planning attorney who can analyze your entire estate, including the assets that pass outside of your will, and implement a superior solution that will benefit your family.

As always, we recommend that you review and possibly update your estate plan in Pennsylvania no less than every five years. Your will, trust, powers of attorney and beneficiary forms may need changes, and it's a good idea to meet with your attorney to review your documents. If you have not reviewed your estate plan for over five years, please call our office at 215-706-0200 to schedule a complementary consultation.