Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life Insurance Review Part I – Beneficiary Designations

If you own life insurance, chances are you have designated a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary.  If your primary beneficiary is living at your death, she will inherit the insurance proceeds.  If your primary beneficiary fails to survive you, your contingent beneficiary will inherit.  What happens if both your primary and contingent beneficiaries fail to survive you?  This could be trouble.  If your beneficiaries fail to survive, your policy would become part of your probate estate.  Why is this a problem aside from the fact that the proceeds may be going to someone other than whom you intended?  In Ohio, insurance proceeds passing through your probate estate are subject to estate tax and creditors.  If the policy is a large policy, an otherwise non-taxable estate could become taxable.  The teaching point is to keep current beneficiary designations with your important papers for your review.  If your beneficiary preferences change or a beneficiary predeceases you, make sure that you update your beneficiary designations.


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