Revisit your beneficiary designations

Life’s Financial Journeys

Heading Off to College
Getting Out on Your Own
Blending Two Lives
Having a Child
Emptying the Nest
Entering Retirement
Death of a Life Partner
Military Life

Life insurance and retirement accounts are not directed to go to others at your death by your will. Instead, each of these accounts has a beneficiary designation for the account. The owner of the account selected the beneficiary when the account was opened and can change the owner as desired. Similarly, assets such as bank accounts can have named persons to receive the funds at the owner’s death.

Prior to the death of your partner these decisions were likely to be relatively easy as most couples name each other as beneficiaries. If you fail to update these designations the proceeds will go to your estate at your death and not to the person or persons you prefer. You should review all beneficiary designations to ensure they are updated.

The following resources may assist you in revisiting your beneficiary designations:

What is Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship

Advantages and Disadvantages of Joint Tenancy

Advantages and Disadvantages of Payable On Death Accounts

Avoid Mistakes When Naming a Beneficiary

Death of a Life Partner Tasks

1. Taking stock of your financial situation
2. Identifying your sources of income
3. Revising your spending plan
4. Revising your estate plan and advance directives
5. Examining Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term care issues

Revising your estate plan and advance directives Subtasks

1. Update your will
2. Revise your advance directive documents
3. Revisit your beneficiary designations


NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation
8700 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 700N
Chicago, IL 60631
(847) 483–5400 ext. 106