Designate beneficiaries on financial accounts

Many financial accounts let you list people as beneficiaries. Meaning, if you pass away, whatever’s in there will get released to them.

Important to know! Beneficiaries supersede a will

Background: Wills go through probate. Probate is a court process. This court process has to be complete before any of your assets can be distributed to those you want them distributed to.

Most people want to avoid probate. Why? Because it takes a long time, it’s costly and it’s public record and therefore not exactly private.

This is where beneficiaries come in.

Beneficiaries supersede your will. That means, your accounts with beneficiaries named on them don’t have to go through probate. Your beneficiaries get them straight away. There are no probate costs. And it’s not public.

How to set up beneficiaries on an account

The way to designate beneficiaries on a financial account varies by institution. Generally you can do one of the following:

1. Online

Log in to your account. Find the screen for beneficiaries (sometimes it’s in your profile, settings or elsewhere). Make the changes. If you can’t find the beneficiaries page, sometimes a quick search for on the site does the trick.

2. Over the phone

Simply call your institution and ask how to designate beneficiaries on your account.

3. Submit a form

To find a the proper form, login to your account and search for “beneficiaries” or something similar. Download the form and fill it out. You may be able to submit it via email. Otherwise send in the mail.

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