8 Tips for Setting Up Your Beneficiary Designations

Setting up a beneficiary designation is an important step in estate planning to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your passing. Here are some tips and things to consider when making these designations:

  1. Clearly Identify Your Beneficiaries: Be specific about who you want to inherit your assets. This includes providing detailed information such as full names, relationships to you and contact information to avoid any confusion.
  2. Consider Multiple Beneficiaries: You can name primary beneficiaries (the first in line to inherit) and contingent beneficiaries (who inherit if the primary beneficiaries cannot). This ensures that your assets are distributed as intended, even if circumstances change.
  3. Understand Your Options: Different assets can have beneficiary designations, including retirement accounts, donor-advised funds, life insurance policies and some bank accounts. Understand which assets you can assign beneficiaries to and the implications of each.
  4. Review and Update Regularly: Life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or the death of a beneficiary can affect your beneficiary designations. Review and update them accordingly to ensure they reflect your current wishes.
  5. Consider the Impact on Minors: If you wish to designate minors as beneficiaries, consider setting up a trust or custodianship. Directly inheriting assets can be complicated, as minors may not legally control the assets until they reach adulthood.
  6. Seek Professional Advice: Laws governing beneficiary designations can be complex and vary by location. Consult with an estate planning attorney or financial advisor to ensure your designations are valid and align with your overall estate plan.
  7. Be Aware of Tax Implications: Some beneficiary designations may have tax consequences for your heirs. For example, inheriting a retirement account can have different tax implications than inheriting a life insurance policy. Understand these nuances to make informed decisions.
  8. Coordinate Your Will and Other Estate Planning Documents: Since beneficiary designations often go outside your estate plans (e.g., retirement accounts, bank accounts), ensure your designations are consistent with your will and other estate planning documents. Discrepancies can lead to confusion and potentially legal challenges.

By thoughtfully considering these aspects, you can make informed decisions about your beneficiary designations, providing clarity and security for both you and your heirs.

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal or tax advice. Each individual’s financial circumstances are unique, and laws and regulations are subject to change. Please consult with a professional tax advisor, attorney or financial planner to discuss your situation and how it relates to any potential tax implications and compliance with applicable laws.

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Lena and Vina are patient ambassadors who have been treated in Precision Medicine. They live in Colorado Springs with their mom, dad and brother.
Planning for the Future of Medicine

Pam Burnelis, a volunteer at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, decided to designate her bequest to support Precision Medicine. This is a growing field that is leveraging new genomic technologies to make significant advancements in pediatric care, especially in the treatment of childhood cancer and rare diseases.