Double check all the beneficiary statements on your life insurance and retirement accounts

By James Ward

James Ward

The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed life for everyone. Whether it be from shortages, businesses not being able to open, everyone wearing masks, illnesses, or even death. Every family has faced changes, and some have been devastated.

The life insurance industry recently released national figures that don’t represent just one area, or just one company, but industry figures that represent a national trend. Sales dropped in the early months of the pandemic, and that was likely due to economic uncertainty and people needing to remain at home, but during the first quarter of 2021, however, sales were 11 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2020 before the virus really took hold in the United States. Some companies have reported a 16 percent increase in life insurance sales.

People are looking at their lives differently now and trying to plan how they’ll protect their own families in the face of the pandemic and the illness and uncertainty that it has brought to everyone.

We’ve seen the same with estate planning as well. People withdrew for a bit in the early months of the pandemic, and then they started calling and coming in to either start new planning to protect their families, or to make changes in their prior plans. And many people just wanted reassurance by phone that they understood what their plan said and how it would work upon their incapacitation or death. People want to know that they and their families are protected.

Personally, I even double checked all the beneficiary statements on my life insurance and retirement accounts to make sure that the beneficiaries on record were the ones I wanted. I wanted to make sure that what I had filed previously hadn’t gotten lost somewhere, and that the records at those companies were correct and up to date.

What about you? Did you check on those things too to make sure that details are covered within your own family? What about with your parents and your adult children? Did you check with them too?

Some adult children are reluctant to ask their parents too much about what plans the parents have in place, and others are involved on a regular basis pushing the parents to have everything in order.

But if you’ve already gone through your own planning and done a re-check, it’s easier to ask others about their affairs and cautiously remind them that maybe they should make sure that their own affairs are also “in order,” so to speak.

What are you doing for yourself and family, and do you need to do more? You may check all the doors at night before you go to bed, and always give an extra tug on the seatbelt to make sure that it’s hooked in properly, but what about your estate plan and your beneficiary forms? Maybe you should take a closer look at those things as well.

It’s not uncommon for me to get clients coming in with estate plans done between 2000 and 2015, but recently I’ve had a lot of clients with estate plans that were done in the 1990s and even the mid-1980s. Those are old! The clients know that their plans are out of date and need to be changed, but they just kept putting it off and now they really know that they need to get things updated.

How about you? Do you have a plan in place? Is it up to date? Does it reflect your current wishes for who’s in charge and who’ll receive your assets? Make sure that you have things covered.

James Ward
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