Broker Check

Have You Checked Your Beneficiaries Lately?

March 13, 2024

There are three phases to your financial journey. First is the accumulation phase, where you are building your wealth. Second is the distribution phase, where your wealth supports your retirement. The final phase (often overlooked) is the legacy phase, where your wealth can bless those you leave behind.

As a financial advisor, I've seen the heartbreak and frustration when a family has overlooked one minor detail in the legacy phase, beneficiaries. It's a simple process that is often overlooked and forgotten, but it’s also extremely important.   

Here are five reasons to check or re-check your beneficiaries today!

  1. Make it Clear
  • Although many assume a spouse or Executor will distribute your assets according to your wishes, there are times that emotions can cloud judgment. Don't leave it to chance. Don't expect your spouse or Executor to read your mind after you are gone.
  1. Simplify the Probate Process
  • Probate is the process of administering a deceased person's will. It can be a complicated and lengthy process. Your assets can be tied up in probate, creating additional confusion and anxiety for your family members. Having your beneficiaries clearly identified on all your accounts can simplify and shorten the entire process.
  1. Things Have Changed
  • As life changes, beneficiaries can change also. Your designations at age 60 may differ radically from those at age 40. A best practice is not to set it and forget it. An annual check is always a good idea. Naming a beneficiary may be just as much about avoiding the money going to someone you don't want as it is to those you do want to have it. This doesn’t have to include just family or close friends, for some people this may be relevant for charitable beneficiaries as well.
  1. Beneficiaries Trump Your Will
  • Our will provides a roadmap, but an executor will rely on your beneficiary designations before following what's written in your will. Bottom line, beneficiaries always trump your will.
  1. Avoid Family Conflict
  • Making sure your beneficiaries are named and up to date on all your accounts will prevent family members from questioning which assets were intended for whom. Also, you can designate percentages of an asset to ensure clarity about how much is distributed to each person.


Bottom line, this small but important legacy step of updating your beneficiary designations can save time, money, and prevent confusion after your death.

If you haven't thought about your designations in a while, now is a good time to sit down and review things. If any questions pop up in this process, don’t hesitate to contact our office – we are here to help.

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Stonegate Financial is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Any opinions are those of Stonegate Financial and not necessarily those of Raymond James.  Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.  The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.