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Estate Planning Mistake #4: Failing to Update Your Beneficiaries Following Life Changes

One of the most common problems we encounter as estate lawyers involve faulty, incomplete or mistaken beneficiary designations.  We see over and over again cases where someone has passed away and there surviving spouse or other family members find out to late that they had either never made a beneficiary designation on a particular investment account or insurance policy or that the beneficiary named on same was someone whom had already died or someone from whom they were either estranged, separated or divorced.

As your life circumstances change (and all of ours do and will), it’s a very good idea to review your assets and check to make sure that you have designated your intended beneficiaries on same.  For example if you’ve gone through a divorce or your spouse has passed away, you want to make sure that you have notified the company handling your account or insurance of this circumstance and see to it that your beneficiary designations are updated and changed to reflect that event. 

Likewise, I always tell my clients that, even if they have taken steps to change a beneficiary on one of their accounts, it’s still a very good idea to get written confirmation from the company handling the account that they have made the change you requested and that they have done so in the manner you requested.  Why is that important?  Because I’ve seen many cases where a parent wanted all of their children listed as beneficiaries on a particular account and we find out after their death that only one of the kids was mistakenly listed as the primary beneficiary of the account.  As you might imagine, this can lead to a great deal of fighting and a lot of hurt feelings.

Remember, as your life circumstance change, take a look at your various accounts and make certain that the people you would like to receive same after your death have been properly listed and designated on same.  Don’t procrastinate until it’s too late.  Take appropriate steps today to ensure that your loved ones are protected and that your wishes are fullfilled.

At American Wills & Estates we have been guiding clients throughout Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania through both the estate planning and probate estate administration process with competency, compassion and care for over 25 years.  Call us today to schedule your free legal consultation, or visit us online at www.americanwillsandestates.com

Pittsburgh Probate Estate Administration and Estate Planning Lawyers