When you opened your bank account, do you remember the banker asking, “Who would you like to have as beneficiary if you should pass away?” What you probably don’t realize is that the banker did you and your loved ones a huge favor!
The person you named is your legal beneficiary designation. By having that official document, you save your bank account and your loved ones from the lengthy, complicated probate process, giving your beneficiary access to the money immediately should you pass away. In Missouri, there is also a beneficiary designation offered at the DMV when you register your automobile.
Why is a Beneficiary Designation Important?
A beneficiary designation or a non-probate transfer is a technique that designates a person or persons you name upon your death to receive certain assets. You can have a different person on every asset, like your car, boat, house, and anything of value that you want someone to get right away.
A beneficiary designation avoids the very lengthy, costly probate process and the administration of a trust and leaves the assets to the person(s) of choice right away. This helps:
- Loved ones can carry on living in a way that they are used to without money and property being tied up in lengthy legal proceedings.
- Your hard-earned money and real estate easily pass to whomever you select right away, without the court choosing someone else or forcing your loved ones to sell.
- Provide peace of mind – you will know exactly who is getting your assets and that they will be dispersed without a complicated, drawn-out process.
- Avoid the probate process; your estate will be smaller, resulting in less time to administer, lower costs, and fewer expenses in the long run.
Types of Beneficiary Documents
Beneficiary Deed – A deed that conveys title of a parcel of real estate to a beneficiary or beneficiaries upon death. Your home is often your largest asset; by having the property transfer outside of the probate process, it is a quick and cost-effective way to pass property on to your loved ones.
Beneficiary Designations – Bank accounts, brokerage accounts, car titles, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and numerous other accounts allow the account to transfer upon the death by simply designating a beneficiary for the account.
Joint Forms of Property Ownership – There are numerous forms of property joint-ownership, so it is important to make sure that property is held in a form of common ownership that more easily transfers upon the death of one party to the other.
Not Sure if You Have a Beneficiary Designation?
If you have not addressed your will, trust, or beneficiary designations in a while, or you’re not sure if you have any set up, there are a few actions you can take today to find out. Go to your banks and financial institutions and ask; if you do not have them in place, request to do so immediately. If you have designated beneficiaries previously, consider if they are still living or in good favor. Have you made a large property purchase without a joint title?
Financial status and assets change, people pass away, and children grow. If you’d like to do a review of your estate plan and your beneficiary designations, Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis, can review your assets, make sure that your properties have the correct forms of ownership to avoid probate, advise you on updates and current laws, and make any number of changes at your request.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation non-probate transfer and estate planning consultation and have peace of mind that your property is protected and your loved ones will be taken care of in the event of your death. (636) 386-8322