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Designating beneficiaries for your estate plan in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2021 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is considered by many Pennsylvanians to be a one-and-done task. Even if you don’t plan on passing away anytime soon, it’s important to regularly update your estate plan and check on beneficiary designations. Beneficiaries are named when signing a new life insurance policy or when going through an estate plan for the first time. Failing to update beneficiaries can lead to lengthy legal problems after you’re gone.

When should I update my beneficiaries?

Usually, you should update your estate plan whenever there’s a life event. This can include but isn’t limited to events like:

  • A new child
  • Death of a child
  • Death of a spouse
  • Divorce
  • Marrying a new spouse
  • A new grandchild
  • Buying a new house or car
  • Anything resulting in a major financial change (for better or worse)

People should always check their beneficiaries when they’re updating their estate plans. It’s common for ex-spouses to be named as beneficiaries, resulting in long legal battles for the children of the deceased.

It’s also important to look at retirement plans, life insurance policies, and trusts whenever you update your estate plan. These plans only let you select a beneficiary and might even be separate from the estate plan that was set up with your lawyer, so it’s important to update them yourself.

What if there are no beneficiaries named?

It’s very hard to estate plan without naming beneficiaries. If you pass before you’ve made your estate plan or without naming any beneficiaries, all of your belongings will go into probate and your family might have to fight to lay claim to your belongings.

Updating your estate plan can be a tedious process, but it’s necessary to ensure that things are as easy as possible for your family upon your death. An attorney may be able to help make the process easier.