Palmer Rodak & Associates
Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal SpecializationServing your Community for 19 Years
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What are beneficiary designations?

When it comes to your financial accounts, ensuring that beneficiary designations are accurate and up-to-date is hugely important. To this end, residents of California must know the facts when designating beneficiaries for their accounts to ensure their estate plans reflect their final wishes. offers some vital information on beneficiary designations and what you should know when estate planning. For instance, you can designate beneficiaries for a wide range of financial accounts. This includes things like retirement plans, life insurance policies, annuities, etc. You can name primary and secondary beneficiaries. In the event that the person named primary beneficiary is deceased, your financial accounts would go to the secondary beneficiary.

Upon your death, your named beneficiaries will be privy to financial accounts. This is true even if your will states otherwise, which is why it’s so important to ensure that all information is current and accurate. Accordingly, it’s recommended that you review your beneficiary listings on a yearly basis, or at which a time a major life change takes place. This typically includes things like new marriages, divorces, the birth of a child, or any other instance where your wishes may change.

You should also keep estate taxes in mind when naming beneficiaries. In most cases spouses are free to inherit assets without paying estate tax. However, other beneficiaries may have to pay taxes on the assets provided, which can become quite expensive. Consider 401Ks; any beneficiaries that are not spouses will need to accept the money in one large lump sum and pay associated income tax, or opt for taxable yearly distributions. 

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Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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Del Mar, CA 92014

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