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What are some common steps beneficiaries forget to take?

In past blog posts, we've covered a number of things you don't want to forget about as you plan for or administrate an estate. As a beneficiary, there are several things you might forget to do or overlook, especially if you're dealing with loss or scrambling to get back to a new normal following the death of a loved one. Here are three simple tasks that can make a big difference for financial and legal matters during this time.

First, make sure you apply for benefits as a beneficiary. Some types of accounts transfer upon death and don't require going through probate, but you might have to fill out a form or make a call to gain access. These types of accounts can include checking and savings, investment accounts and some retirement accounts. Never assume the financial institution will call you -- take the first step or have someone do it on your behalf.

Second, have the deceased's email accounts and physical mail forwarded to the appropriate person. That may be you if you are a close beneficiary or estate administrator, or it might be someone else. It's important that someone is reviewing this information for a while to ensure all financial and legal matters are wrapped up.

Finally, if you are the beneficiary on an account that automatically transfers or rolls over, make sure you update your own beneficiary designations. If the asset results in you opening a new account or gaining a new account of some type, then you'll want to fill out beneficiary forms so your heirs receive the assets should something happen to you. If you have any questions about ensuring your heirs are protected or you are struggling with probate or other matters as a beneficiary, consider reaching out to an estate attorney.

Source: Forbes, "Are You A Beneficiary? 7 Steps To Get It Right," Rob Russell, accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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