When Should I Use Change of Beneficiary Forms?

Change of beneficiary forms
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Change of beneficiary forms are useful when updating an estate plan.

You know who you want to inherit your assets.

But they are not the same folks as from a few years ago.

Your circumstances have changed.

I get that.

So, you updated your last will or your revocable living trust.


However, according to a recent Wealth Advisor article titled “I’m being denied an inheritance. Can they do that?,” you may not be done.

Submitting change of beneficiary forms is important in updating your estate plan.
Mailing in your change of beneficiary forms is key to updating heirs to certain accounts.

Some accounts pass through beneficiary designations.

These includes IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance policies, and transfer/pay on death accounts.

If you have these accounts, you will want to submit change of beneficiary forms.

These documents will need to be filled out, signed, and submitted before you die.

If this does not happen, your “desired” heir will not be your “designated” heir.


How do you avoid these dire results?

Request change of beneficiary forms from the institutional custodian.

After you have these forms, fill them out, sign, and submit them.

In some cases, you may need to have your signature witnessed or notarized.

Send the change of beneficiary forms to the institutional custodian, unless this is done online.

You may also want to follow up to ensure these critical documents arrived and were processed properly.

If you live in a community property state, your IRA must be your spouse, unless your spouse has given written permission to allow for another beneficiary.

Although Kansas and Missouri are not community property states, these rules will apply if you move to Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin.

Nevertheless, regardless where you are resident, any ERISA plan beneficiary (e.g., 401(k) or profit sharing plan) must be your spouse, unless your spouse has given written permission to allow for another beneficiary.

If you are wanting to change your estate plan to meet your current needs and goals, work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your last will or revocable living trust updates and change of beneficiary forms are sufficient.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (Nov. 24, 2020) “I’m being denied an inheritance. Can they do that?”

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