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Across My Desk: Beneficiaries

Making sure the ones you care for inherit your financial treasures begins with making sure that you know a thing or two about beneficiaries.

Christine Benz, from Morningstar, addressed the beneficiary issue earlier this year in one of her columns. What follows is a brief summary of her advice:

  • Understand the basics. Beneficiaries can be named for a number of assets including retirement plans, annuities, and life insurance policies. Be advised that children under the age of 18 or 21, depending upon the state in which you live, cannot be named on those investment vehicles.

  • Beneficiary assets pass directly to whomever you designate and thus won't go through probate.

  • Beneficiary designations override what is stated in your will.

  • Because our lives are constantly changing, make sure to review your beneficiary designations often---as in at least every year.

  • Keep in mind that inheriting assets can mean tax consequences for your beneficiaries.

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