Do I need a will if I have named beneficiaries?
I have beneficiaries on my IRAs and bank accounts… Do I still need a will?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Rules vary from state to state and needs vary from person to person, but in most cases, executing a will is prudent.
Designating beneficiaries on life insurance policies and qualified retirement accounts is certainly a step in the right direction to ensure that your assets flow to your intended beneficiaries as these directives supersede any will directives. There are similar options with bank accounts and brokerage accounts (Payable On Death or Transfer On Death designations). However, it starts to get more complicated when real property, such as homes, automobiles, or collectibles are considered. Additionally, even in the rare circumstance that you could structure all assets to be left via designated beneficiaries, special consideration must also be given to how your final expenses will be settled and who will be in charge of dispersing your personal property.
Finally, it is important to consider that designating beneficiaries is just one piece of the puzzle. Guardianship and support are two monumental concerns if you have minor or special needs children. In addition, power of attorneys and living wills are an important part of estate planning which could potentially be overlooked if you opt against creating a will.
A will ensures that your intentions are carried out. The process of creating the will is a good exercise in reviewing your assets, ensuring that accounts are titled appropriately to reflect your wishes and that the right tools are in place to ensure that your wishes are carried out efficiently.