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Designated beneficiaries take precedence over provisions in wills

People nationwide, including those in Oklahoma, often avoid thoughts of their own mortality. For this reason, estates are sometimes accidentally left to unintended recipients. It is not uncommon for a person to be comfortable merely with the fact that he or she has a will; however, many fail to consider the importance of updating beneficiaries. Designated beneficiaries on 401(k)s or IRAs often take precedence over stipulations in wills.

Consider the circumstances of a person who designates a beneficiary when he or she fills out forms for retirement or investment account on his or her first day of work and then never thinks of it again. Substantial amounts can be accumulated in retirement funds over years of employment, and if the beneficiaries were never updated, the funds would go to that original beneficiary. Many changes can take place over 15 to 20 years or more.

Since that first day at work, a person might have gotten married, had children and, later, grandchildren. There might have been a divorce and remarriage along with more children or stepchildren. The failure to revisit and update beneficiaries can unintentionally leave one's retirement fund to an ex-spouse or someone who was the intended beneficiary many years ago but no longer has any relevance to one's current life.

Since that first day at work, a person might have gotten married, had children and, later, grandchildren. There might have been a divorce and remarriage along with more children or stepchildren. The failure to revisit and update beneficiaries can unintentionally leave one's retirement fund to an ex-spouse or someone who was the intended beneficiary many years ago but no longer has any relevance to one's current life.

Properly managed beneficiaries can be seen as part of an estate plan, and, in addition to retirement funds, beneficiary designations on life insurance, pension plans, savings plans and more need to be revisited at regular intervals. There are multiple methods of manipulating designations to provide additional benefits. With the guidance of an Oklahoma attorney who is experienced in dealing with wills, trusts and estate plans, a person can obtain peace of mind in knowing that his or her estate will be distributed as intended.

Source: kcentv.com, "Your Ex Could Get Rich if You Don't Update Your Beneficiaries", Jeff Reeves, Jan. 17, 2016

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