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Beneficiary designations, estate administration and probate

Creating a plan for providing for loved ones after death requires making numerous decisions. One of the considerations many Georgia residents have is how to reduce the time, money and effort those left behind spend in and on estate administration and probate. One way to do that could be through beneficiary designations.

Several types of property can be transferred through these designations. Bank accounts, retirement accounts and insurance policies are just three of them. Georgia residents who want a specific person to receive the funds from a bank account can fill out a payable on death form. Upon death, the proceeds remaining in the account will go to that person.

When a retirement account is opened, the account holder is required to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries of the account upon death. The same can be said for life insurance policies. The key is to be sure to keep these beneficiary designation forms up to date to ensure that the person an individual wants to receive the funds in these accounts actually receives them. Certain life events such as divorce, marriage or birth, among other things, can influence who a person wants to name as a beneficiary. Other assets and accounts might also be eligible for transfer in this manner in order to avoid probate.

Georgia residents should also note that once these forms are filled out, if you want to make a change, another form must be submitted. Simply making changes in your will does not work since these forms override your will. In order to make sure that the estate administration and probate processes are as hassle free as possible for surviving loved ones, make sure that these forms are accurate and don't forget to make any desired changes in conjunction with a will. If an individual is unsure regarding whether this decision and others will accomplish his or her goals, it might be beneficial to consult with an estate-planning attorney.

Source: thefencepost.com, "Avoiding probate with beneficiary designations: Part 1", Chris Nolt, April 14, 2017

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