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Beneficiary Review: Help Make Sure Your Assets Go to the Right People

Life Insurance
Grandparents enjoying time on the couch with the granddaughters

When you first purchased your life insurance policy or other retirement accounts, you likely designated beneficiaries — and then didn't give them another thought. When was the last time you reviewed the beneficiary designations for your accounts?Even if your will gives different instructions, the beneficiary/ies named on each of your accounts will receive your money. It may be time to perform a beneficiary review to be sure you've named the right people and provided the necessary information for when the time comes.

Various Life Events May Indicate a Beneficiary Change

Throughout life, several events can signal a need to review and possibly change your designations:

  • Marriage: If you've married, do you intend to name your new spouse as your beneficiary? If you have children from a prior marriage, do you want them as your beneficiaries? A marriage signals a good time to review your choices.
  • Divorce: Does the divorce decree or property settlement agreement require that you name a specific beneficiary for your life insurance policies or insurance contracts? If the decree or settlement agreement didn't require a specific beneficiary to be named, consider if you should make a change after divorce.
  • Children/Grandchildren: Has a new child or grandchild been born? Avoid confusion and specifically designate additional children or grandchildren as beneficiaries, especially if you want to divide your assets in a particular way.
  • Death of a Beneficiary: Has a beneficiary predeceased you? If you haven't named a contingent, your life insurance or annuity benefits may be paid to your estate. Your heirs may not receive the death benefit until your estate is probated, delaying payment and perhaps resulting in payment to persons you did not intend to financially benefit from your death. Review your policies for any changes due to predeceased persons.

These are only some of the factors to consider — make sure you decide who inherits your assets by updating your beneficiary designations whenever something happens in your life. And if it seems complex, work with a financial professional to help make the best decisions for you.


The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. This material is not intended to be used, nor can it be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. This material is written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) addressed by this material. This material is being provided for informational purposes only. Columbus Life does not provide legal or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. Consult an attorney or tax advisor regarding your specific legal or tax situation. There are insurance related costs to a life insurance policy. Premiums paid must produce sufficient cash value to pay insurance charges.