The Importance of Beneficiary Designations

We are often asked about how important it is to designate beneficiaries on accounts as part of Estate Planning.
Our answer is that it is very important to designate beneficiaries on all accounts to help avoid probate of an estate after the account holder’s death. With proper beneficiary designations in place accounts are paid directly to the beneficiary by the bank/company.
We suggest you follow these steps below to place a beneficiary on an account:
Call the company where you have an account. You can also visit them in person;
Tell them you want to name a beneficiary on the account;
Provide them with the name, address, and social security number of your beneficiary(ies);
They will send you a form in the mail. Or, if you visit them in person, they will give you a form;
Fill out and sign the beneficiary designation form they send or give to you. (It may need witnesses and/or a
notary); and
Return the form to the company, and follow up to make sure they receive it.
Do these steps for any asset you have an account number for including: Life Insurance; Bank Accounts; Certificates of Deposit; and IRA’s/401K’s/etc.
You should also add primary beneficiary(ies) and back up(s) in case something happens to the primary beneficiary. If you put “Per stirpes,” assets will be distributed equally to the children of a deceased beneficiary. Please be aware that you should not put “The Estate” as the beneficiary, or the account will have to go through probate. Also, be careful about putting a minor, an incapacitated person, or a person receiving public benefits, as a direct beneficiary; consider setting up a trust instead.
If you have any questions about beneficiary  designations and avoiding probate, please do not delay, and set an appointment with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate, and caring Elder Law Attorneys.
With offices in Orange Park, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, our Elder Law Attorneys use effective Estate Planning planning strategies to help numerous clients in North Florida protect their assets during the transfer process to beneficiaries upon death.
We are your Florida First Coast Elder Law Attorneys.