Have Your Beneficiaries Been Updated Lately?
You may have heard the horror stories of officers who divorced and never changed their insurance policies, deferred comp beneficiaries, or estate plan, and the ex-spouse got it all. It is easy when hearing dramatic stories to assume you are safe. But are you?
There are various reasons why your listed beneficiaries might not fit your current intentions. It can also prove costly because of circumstances beyond your control.
It is very common to have beneficiary names listed on policies and accounts that are not current to your wishes. The chances are you have beneficiaries listed right now that include a person you no longer wish to receive the benefit or it excludes someone.
Here are some examples:
- Previous marriages: That is an easy one. However, please know that when you die the beneficiary on any legal document will receive the proceeds of that policy, account, or estate plan. I have had those phone calls from surviving spouses who discovered the ex on policies after their spouse died.
- Not listing all your children: You took out the insurance policy years ago before having that second or third child.
- Intentionally listing only one child: You figure that child will take care of their siblings. That mistake is widespread. However, the child you list has legal ownership. What if the child's spouse has different ideas? Or before making distributions to siblings, the beneficiary child dies. All the funds are now part of that child's estate. The funds could end up in the beneficiary child's divorce, lawsuit or creditors claim. Then there are possible gift taxes when making distributions depending on the tax code at the time.
- Countless clients were in one of those or other situations as we reviewed their assets and policies during their Living Trust signing. Fortunately, they were still around to fix it.
Minor Children Beneficiaries
Suppose you have listed a minor as a primary or successor beneficiary on a policy or account. Unfortunately, you die before the minor reaches 18 years of age. If so:
- If you die before the minor reaches age 18, all of the proceeds will go to Probate. The assets stay under the court's control until the minor is 18.
- Secondly, not many people want their children to receive large sums of money at 18; when Probate will release it all. 18 may be the age of majority; however it is rarely the age of maturity.
One of my favorite truths is that the human brain does not fully form until age 25. Everything is there except the frontal cortex, which governs reason. And that explains a lot! That fact should also inform your decision about the final distribution age of all funds. A Living Trust best accomplishes a sensible distribution strategy.
A Trust protects the funds outside of Probate. The minor can receive distributions before age 18 for health, education, and welfare at the discretion of your chosen Trustee. You chose the final distribution age.
Beneficiary Financial Troubles
No matter what age you feel is appropriate for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance, there is no way of knowing whether they are going through a divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit at the time of your death.
If you name your Living Trust as beneficiary, the Trust protects against all of those risks. A Trust's Spendthrift Provision prevents any creditor or spouse from claiming the gift of your estate.
Benficiary Disability Issues
Suppose one of your beneficiaries acquires a disability through accident or illness before your death. In that case, your estate funds will go to the government for reimbursement of public benefits. Or your beneficiary will lose their SSI or Medicaid benefits.
You can prevent this from happening with a Living Trust that has precautionary Supplemental Needs provisions.
At the end of your life, or at incapacitation if you have property or bank accounts in your name, they risk Probate.
- A Will must be Probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
- A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
- Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
- A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.
17W220 22nd Street, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181
This blog entry is created for information purposes. Therefore, it is not legal advice. Please do not use this blog as legal advice, which turns on specific facts, as well as laws in specific jurisdictions. No reader of this blog should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Are Your Assets Protected?
Asset protection is more important than ever before. Today, you have risks at every turn. Lawsuits, high cost of long-term care, auto and home accidents, or years of Probate. All too often, we settle and fail to consider the importance of comprehensive protection. In other cases, all we need is the best legal document to protect what we own. It is not worth rolling the dice and sacrificing your savings or your hard-earned assets. And it is next to impossible to keep up with what you need for protection. Many changes you need come without warning.
Homestead Real Estate
Suppose you are married and currently working as the police. In that case, your principal place of residence should be titled in Tenants by Entirety. This form of legal title protects your marital property from the creditors of one spouse.
With the growing availability of concealed carry laws, more citizens are choosing to carry firearms and to keep them accessible for defense in their homes.
However, even for justifiable acts of self-defense, a claim for monetary damages can be made against you by your assailant or innocent bystanders. You can also be held liable for gun-related incidents while hunting, in gun clubs, or while shooting at commercial or private ranges.
Check out the Benefits Plan website for more information.
Asset Protection with Automobile Insurance
The most common auto policy written today is the same as it was 25 years ago – $100,000/$300,000. It means you have $100,000 in individual protection for damages caused by you or a covered driver on your policy. Similarly, you have $300,000 total coverage for all injured parties.
Consequently, you are personally responsible for damages that exceed these amounts. Even a minor accident can result in hospitalization, extended medical care, or death. However, Umbrella Insurance only costs an average of $250 per year. The policy provides an additional $1 million in liability protection for each covered vehicle and your residence.
Investment Real Estate
If you own commercial property, your renters can sue you for various reasons. For example, claims made for injuries resulting from property defects inside and outside of the residence. First, be sure you have the right coverage and are not overpaying. Secondly, eliminate any personal liability concern for excess claims by holding title to any investment property in either a Corporation or an LLC. Moreover, a Series LLC allows you to separate liabilities from each property if you own more than one investment property.
Long Term Health Care
Will you need it? For those who live longer than age 65, 70% will need some long-term health care. To clarify, only 40% of people will require inpatient nursing care. However, all long-term health care is expensive. Fortunately, there is a hybrid insurance policy that is offered exclusively to Benefits Plan members. This policy provides long-term care insurance and, if not accessed, it can be converted to life insurance at your death.
Living Trusts and Asset Protection
At the end of your life, or if you become incapacitated, property or bank accounts in your name, are at risk of Probate.
- A Will must be probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the complete probate process at your death or incapacity. This court process averages 18 months and is costly.
- A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
- A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents and a Last Will and Testament for guardianship of minor children and to “pour over” any assets still in your name at your death, out of Probate.
A Revocable Living Trust is a written, legal document that allows you to privately pass your assets to your family, friends, or charities after your death. Assets in a properly funded Trust are not subject to Probate. These include real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and minor beneficiary policies and accounts. Your life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations. However, often it is recommended that adult beneficiaries, without legal or other restrictions, be named as beneficiaries.
Comprehensive Benefits of America
For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.
Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.
17W220 22nd St.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181