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Estate Planning, Step-by-Step: Part Two

We're going to pick up where we left off last week, discussing some of the most important steps that go into creating and maintaining a healthy, up-to-date estate plan. On Thursday, we discussed the importance of properly (and comprehensively) tallying your assets for the purpose of planning.

This week, we start off with an equally important step:

6. When you set up your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts, you probably put down someone to whom the assets within those accounts would pass upon your death. This is referred to as "passing via contract." This contract trumps any information in your will or estate plan, so make sure that it's still accurate.

For example, if you wish to leave assets from your IRA to your son, but your ex-wife is still listed as the beneficiary, make sure you go in and change the information in your IRA.

7. Life insurance and annuities function in much the same way as an IRA or 401(k), passing by contract to the individual listed in those accounts. As with retirement accounts, it's important to go in and ensure the accuracy of your listed beneficiary's information.

8. Lastly, you'll want to set up TOD (Transfer-on-death) designations. As with the accounts listed above, doing so allows you to confirm that your bank savings, CD accounts, etc. are passing to the person you want them to go to. In addition, such foresight will likely allow your heirs to avoid probate, which can be expensive in both time and money.

9. Ninth, but not least, pick an estate administrator. This individual will be in charge of distributing your assets, so choose wisely. He or she may be a member of your family, a close friend or even a neutral third-party, such as an estate planning attorney.

Source Article

  • Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die (San Francisco Chronicle)

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