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What are common mistakes when naming heirs?

There is a lot that goes into estate planning, with many people forgetting that the process of naming heirs is extremely important. There are not many things more important than knowing that your assets will be handed down to the appropriate person or people upon your passing.

One of the most common mistakes is naming a beneficiary when opening an account, such as for retirement, and forgetting about this for good. Things can change over time. For example, you may have named your spouse at the time of opening an account as your beneficiary. However, if you have since divorced, it probably makes sense to change this.

Here is another common mistake: not knowing who you can name as a beneficiary. For most, this is an individual, such as a spouse or child. However, there are other ideas to consider, including trusts and charities.

You should also consider the fact that you don't have to choose one person to receive everything. You have the right to name more than one person as a beneficiary, based on your personal desires.

The risky part of estate planning is that you will make a mistake along the way and not knowing that you did so. As a result, this could lead to trouble upon your death, such as your assets being left to the wrong person.

In addition to carefully reviewing each detail when creating an estate plan, it is essential to review the appropriate documents on a regular basis. Along with this, some have found that consulting with an estate planning attorney is a good way to have all their questions answered.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Beware the Beneficiary Form" Jan. 12, 2015

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