Updating beneficiaries could make estate planning more effective

Knowing the importance of having an estate plan has helped many New York residents get their affairs in order. Estate planning can allow individuals to assess their lives at a particular moment, consider aspects of their futures and determine what details may help them structure their end-of-life wishes. Of course, since planning does initially take place at one moment in life and changes often occur, reviewing and updating plans could help avoid mistakes.

Reviewing beneficiaries can be one step that could ensure that an estate plan stays effective. If an individual did not name any beneficiaries when initially creating a plan, he or she may understand that the estate would need to go through probate and that assets would likely pass to next of kin without specification in a will. However, over time, a person may become less satisfied with this arrangement and want to add beneficiaries to bequeath specific items to certain people.

Even if parties do name beneficiaries, an estate plan could be less effective if left unchecked. Relationships change over the years, and births and deaths also take place. If a person has outdated beneficiaries named in his or her estate plan, a loved one could be left out, or assets could pass on to an unexpected individual due to the initial beneficiary's passing.

Estate planning does not have to be a one-and-done act, nor should it be. As New York residents' lives flow and change, their estate plans could benefit from reflecting those changes. Individuals interested in getting started on their plans, learning more about beneficiaries and updating existing plans may wish to speak with their legal counsel.

Source: wtop.com, "7 common mistakes to avoid when naming your beneficiaries", Nina Mitchell, Feb. 21, 2018

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