Have Your Clients Checked Their Beneficiary Designations Lately?

Have Your Clients Checked Their Beneficiary Designations Lately?

Updating a plan’s beneficiary designations might seem like a simple process–and it often is. However, it’s a process that’s often overlooked. Clients who participate in ERISA plans should be reminded that they’re required to complete their beneficiary designations in writing, using the procedures and forms established by the specific plan, in order for those designations to become effective. Often, survivors can be surprised by the beneficiary designated by the plan—and may even try to argue that the decedent’s will should govern who receives the account funds. Clients should remember that wills and state intestate laws do not govern who receives plan funds.

The only consideration will be who the account owner has designated under plan procedures. It’s important to carefully evaluate the plan’s policies, however—because some plans have exceptions in place to, for example, automatically revoke a beneficiary designation upon divorce. For more information on the importance of checking beneficiary designations and updating on major life events, Read More

William Byrnes

William H. Byrnes has achieved authoritative prominence with more than 20 books, treatise chapters and book supplements, 1,000 media articles, and the monthly subscriber Tax Facts Intelligence. Titles include: Lexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance, Foreign Tax and Trade Briefs, Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing, and Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture; Recovery, and Compliance (a Global Guide). He is a principal author of the Tax Facts series. He was a Senior Manager, then Associate Director of international tax for Coopers and Lybrand, and practiced in Southern Africa, Western Europe, South East Asia, the Indian sub-continent, and the Caribbean. He has been commissioned by a number of governments on tax policy. Obtained the title of tenured law professor in 2005 at St. Thomas in Miami, and in 2008 the level of Associate Dean at Thomas Jefferson. William Byrnes pioneered online legal education in 1995, thereafter creating the first online LL.M. offered by an ABA accredited law school (International Taxation and Financial Services graduate program).

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