Monday, May 9, 2016

Who Is Your Beneficiary? Do You Even Know?

Recently, we heard of an unfortunate incident, and I just wanted to share it so that it does not happen to you.

In this particular case, much to the shock of his loved ones, a gentleman passed away quite unexpectedly. He left behind a wife and both children and stepchildren, so it was very important that he made sure that his account was going to be distributed to the individuals he wished. Unfortunately, his wife was quite stunned when it was discovered that the beneficiary of the account was his ex-wife of more than 20 years, instead of his current wife.

To make things even more difficult, he did not maintain a Will, Healthcare Directive or any other legal documents. As would be expected, the family was thrown into total chaos when they found out that the beneficiary had not been updated on his life insurance either. At the end of the day, the widow that had expected to be taken care of by life insurance and retirement accounts found her only alternative was to pursue action through the probate court with an almost absolute certainty of losing.

I wonder how many clients are sitting out there today who do not have an updated Will (or even one at all), Healthcare Directive, or have not updated the beneficiaries on their IRAs, 401(k) accounts and life insurance policies. The purpose of this blog is to get those of you who fit the description above started in the right direction. I am enclosing a link below that will take you directly to a free copy of the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare that you can complete in the privacy of your own home. No legal advice required.

Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare

The first 14 pages of this link are simply related to the law that Georgia has set out regarding this matter. They are written in plain English and are easy to understand, even for those who are not willing to read long, detailed information.

The Healthcare Directive itself is only 15 pages, which is perfectly legal to be filled out and witnessed by two people who are not included in the document. Therefore, you can simply print this document, make your healthcare selections and have it witnessed by two people and it will be perfectly legal in the state of Georgia. For those of you out of state, I assume every state has a similar document that would apply to you.

It goes without saying that you need to have a Will in place and this is especially true if you have children. The main purpose of this blog is to remind you to check the beneficiaries of all accounts that have named beneficiaries (retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, etc.), make sure your Will is current, and make sure your Georgia Advance for Healthcare Directive is prepared, signed by you and witnessed by two people not mentioned in the document. I certainly would not want your loved ones to go through the problems that the family mentioned above experienced due to such an unexpected death.

If you have any questions regarding these matters, please call our office at 404-892-7967. We would be more than happy to refer you to an attorney or someone that could help you with all necessary documents.

Best Regards,
Joe Rollins