Do You Know Your Beneficiaries? In general, the beneficiaries named in your last will and testament will inherit the assets you designate for them. However, with certain types of contracts — including most retirement accounts and insurance policies — the beneficiary designation form typically supercedes any bequest in your will. It’s important to carefully consider the people you name on all beneficiary forms and resolve any conflicts with the beneficiaries named in your will. Here are some key considerations regarding beneficiary designations: • Your current spouse must be the beneficiary of an employer-sponsored retirement plan unless he or she waives that right in writing. If there is no spousal waiver, any children from a previous marriage might not receive the account proceeds you want them to have. • It is wise to designate secondary or contingent beneficiaries in the event that the primary beneficiaries predecease you. Otherwise, proceeds will be distributed according to the default method specified in the account documents and/or state law. • Some insurance policies, pension plans, and retirement accounts may not pay death benefits to minors. If you want to leave money to young children, you should designate a guardian or a trust as beneficiary.
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