Cross one more item off the New Year's Resolution list--from 1999--THE WILL IS DONE. Now everything is done, right? Maybe not.
Getting your will or trust is only piece of the puzzle. Equally as important is reviewing you assets that have named beneficiaries: life insurance, 401(k), 403(b), IRA, Keogh and annuities. It may have been some time since you last updated these beneficiaries and your financial advisor or IRA custodian may not have followed up with that assistance. It is not uncommon to see ex-spouses and parents as "surprise" beneficiaries. With large retirement plans and insurance policies, these assets may comprise up a majority of your assets so it is important that you incorporate these beneficiary designations into your global estate plan.
There are certain income tax benefits to having your spouse as a named beneficiary of a qualified (retirement) plan, which permits tax deferral. But as to your contingent beneficiaries and other named beneficiaries assets, it is important that your estate planner assist you with incorporating these items in your estate plan so that you have a complete picture with all of the pieces.