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Who are your beneficiaries?

Naming your beneficiaries can be a very personal – and emotional – decision.  Although there is no “right” way to choose your beneficiaries, keeping a few things in mind can reduce the risk of complications down the road.

Use a proper estate-planning strategy

Although it may be tempting to leave the proceeds of your life insurance policy to your estate, doing so will cause your policy to go through probate.  This could greatly delay the distribution of your life insurance benefits, and can result in benefits being allocated in ways you hadn’t expected.

Instead, select a specific beneficiary (or beneficiaries).  This not only makes it more likely that the death benefit will be paid immediately to your loved ones, but also that they’ll be distributed according to your wishes.  Be sure to consult your attorney regarding your individual situation.

Name your beneficiaries with care

Be mindful of how you word your beneficiary designations.  Naming “the wife of the insured,” for example, could result in an ex-spouse getting the proceeds.  Conversely, naming specific children may exclude those born later.

Also, be sure to name a “contingent” (secondary) beneficiary, just in case you outlive your first beneficiary.

To avoid unintended outcomes, consider consulting your financial professional – or working with an attorney who specializes in estate planning – before you name your beneficiaries.

Update your policy

It’s critical to employ proper estate planning and to carefully name your beneficiaries, but it’s equally important to make sure that information stays up-to-date.

One way to do this is to schedule regular life insurance policy reviews with your agent.  As part of a policy review, your agent will make sure that your insurance is still adequate for your needs, and that your beneficiaries are designated according to your wishes.

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