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Make Estate Planning Part of Your New Year's Resolutions

 Posted on February 06, 2013 in Beneficiaries

Many people make the new year the start of their new resolutions, whether they want to lose weight, save more money, or improve other parts of their lives. A recent Press & Guide article points out that one often-overlooked aspect of life is estate planning. As we move through the first part of 2013, take some time and make one of your resolutions to engage in some estate planning that will help carry out your wishes and save your surviving family members from some headaches in the long run.

You may think it is sufficient to avoid formal estate planning if you have listed another person as beneficiary on your bank accounts, life insurance policies, and 401(k) and other investment accounts. The major problem with using the beneficiary designation as an estate planning tool is the risk that a beneficiary predeceases you. If there is no beneficiary designated, and you have no will or other estate planning document in place, then state law will dictate how the proceeds of your account or other asset is divided among your heirs, whether that is what you intended or not. The bottom line is that if you want to be certain that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, then you need to take all necessary steps to ensure that your plans are carried out.

Another common problem with beneficiary designations is that people tend to forget to change them as major life events occur. Marriage, divorce, adoption, and death are all important reasons to review your beneficiary designations on all of your accounts and other assets. Otherwise, you run the real risk of having your assets distributed to your ex-wife, your deceased father, or excluding your newly adopted child from your estate altogether. These situations can result in some ugly and lengthy legal battles following your death if you do not take all steps necessary to avoid them.

As your Naperville estate planning attorneys well know, solely relying on the beneficiary designation as your estate planning device is simply not enough to ensure that your wishes are followed with respect to the distribution of your property. Contact our law office today and set up an appointment in order to devise an estate plan that you can depend on to carry your wishes.

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