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Wills and beneficiary designations are critical in an estate plan

All adults need to have an estate plan in place, however many think that they don't have enough assets or they are too young. Because you never know when something will happen, it is best to be prepared so that your family isn't left wondering what to do should the unthinkable happen.

When getting ready to create your plan, you will need to set up your will but there are some things that can't be included in it. Make sure that you have everything in so your wishes can be followed.

Don't include anything with a beneficiary designation

Some assets have a beneficiary designation. These include things like bank, investment and retirement accounts, as well as life insurance policies. The payable on death designation will override anything in the will. It is a good idea to double check all of these when you review your will so you can ensure that the correct person is named.

No joint held property can be included

Unless you and the person who also owns the property pass away at the same time or that person dies before you, it won't matter what is included in the will. These assets will always be passed along to the surviving owner. The one exception is if an asset is governed by tenancy in common laws, which mean that the decedent's share of the property will be handled in accordance with the will.

Never forget to review the plan

You need to review your will periodically. You should never let more than five years pass between reviews. This gives you a chance to ensure that your property is still going to the person you desire. It is also a time to check that there haven't been any changes in tax laws or other laws that might affect how your estate is handled. Double check the estate plan and all beneficiary designations if you have a major life change, such as in increase in net worth, retirement, marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.

Remember that your will and the beneficiary designations are only part of the estate plan. All should work together to distribute things in the manner you want, so you can ensure your loved ones are taken care of.

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