Scarier than Ghosts

What is your biggest fear? For some it may be leaving everything they’ve worked towards their entire life up to chance once they have passed away. If you’re reading this, you still have a chance to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I recently read an article about a wife that had a small IRA and named her church as the primary beneficiary. Years later, when her husband died, she rolled his IRA into her IRA, since spouses are allowed this type of rollover. She did not change her beneficiary designation. When she passed away, the church received all the assets. Her family was quite upset when they were told they would not inherit any money from the IRA account.

Another family had a single dad that was quite ill. The dad sat down with his children to go over his assets, so they would know which insurance companies and brokerage accounts to contact at his death. He told the children that per the will, all four of them would inherit equally. When he passed, the children contacted the companies and were informed that two of the accounts had beneficiaries listed and they were not the children. Therefore, the children would not inherit from two of the accounts.

The moral of these stories is a beneficiary designation trumps anything written in one’s will or trust agreement. Any time you have a life change, such as a birth or death in the family, revisit your beneficiaries to make sure they are up to date. It is also good to review your will and beneficiaries at least every five years.