It is fairly obvious that your life insurance and long term care insurance policies should name a beneficiary since the sole purpose of a policy is to ensure that your loved ones will be financially supported after your death. Most life insurance policies bequeath their proceedings to their spouse or children, but how this is worded in your life insurance policy is crucial and could avoid disputes and disappointments after your death.
There are very few rules regarding who can be your beneficiary. If you are naming an individual as your beneficiary, some states only allow you to choose a relative. You should consider a few points when naming your beneficiary.
Simply designating your life insurance benefits to your “wife” or “husband” may not suffice. Without a specific name, such words may entitle your ex-wife or your ex-husband to have rights to life insurance benefits after your death. It is always advisable to name your wife or husband and to review your life insurance policy after a divorce to make the necessary amendments.
There are special considerations to make if your spouse is a non-U.S. citizen. In such a case, death benefits may be subject to estate tax marital deduction. It may advisable to make a lifetime gift of the policy and make your spouse the owner. You should take the counsel of a professional life insurance advisor.
Naming your children on your life insurance policy may leave out children that are born to you after the policy has been made. It is always advisable to make amendments to your policy after the birth of each child. You need to be very careful with the wordings. “Children of the insured, John Doe” may exclude children from your previous marriage from getting any benefits from your life insurance policy. If you say “Children born from the marriage between Jane and John Doe” it may exclude any adopted children from getting the proceeds of your life insurance benefits.
Not naming your grandchildren as beneficiaries, would exclude the children of any of your deceased children from getting any benefits from your life insurance policy.
Designating your “estate” as the beneficiary can subject the benefits to the probate process, which can turn out to be lengthy and costly. If your beneficiaries are named, the process of disseminating death benefits is faster.
You can also name a company as your beneficiary, a charitable organization or donate your proceedings to a “trust”.
It is always good to name a second beneficiary or “contingent” in the event that your beneficiary may pre-decease you.
Review Your Life Insurance Policy Periodically
Since no one can tell when your time of death may come, it is always advisable to review your life insurance policy periodically, particularly after major life changes such as a divorce or a birth, to make amendments accordingly.
Most life insurers trust a format that comes with a life insurance application. However, getting professional advice before you make this important decision of designating a beneficiary is important. To avoid any disputes which could leave your loved ones disappointed, make sure your advisors are informed of any change in your beneficiaries that you make after the policy has been in effect.
While you update information on your life insurance policy, you may want to review the policy to check whether you are getting the best deal. In the competitive business of life insurance you may find a cheaper policy for the same amount of coverage which may even include a few free riders. Online life insurance quote providers can provide you with instant quotes to help you evaluate your current policy against what is currently available.