Decided where your assets should go after you die is one of the primary purposes of an estate plan.

One of the most common questions people have is who should be their beneficiaries. The good news is this decision is entirely up to you. Your assets can go entirely to one person, to multiple people, or even to a charity or a trust.

Below, you can download a PDF to help you with this process. We recommend downloading the PDF and making note of your decisions as you walk through the following steps.

Step 1: Make a list of the people who should receive your assets when you die. These people are your primary beneficiaries.

Step 2: Decide what percent of your assets should go to each beneficiary. Your beneficiaries can receive 100% of your assets, or you can divide the assets up. For example, you can leave 50% of your assets to your sister and 50% of your assets to your best friend.

Step 3: Decide what should happen to the money if the beneficiary you chose dies before you do. These people are your secondary beneficiaries.

Keep in mind:

  • It is better to indicate what percentage of assets should go to each beneficiary instead of a specific dollar amount, because you do not know what your assets will be worth when you die.  However, some choose to give away a dollar amount to certain beneficiaries before providing instructions about the remaining assets.  This is up to you!
  • Some assets will not be transferred to beneficiaries based on the instructions in your will. This includes things like: retirement accounts (401K, 403b, 457, pension, IRA), life insurance, annuities, and transfer on death (TOD) or payable on death (POD) accounts. For these assets, you need to provide instructions directly to the financial institution.

An example of how to use this worksheet is below:

If you would like help creating an Estate Plan, please reach out to Mathews Law, PLLC for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 866.980.0838 any time – 24 hours a day!

If you are an existing client and have a specific question, please let us know at admin@mathewslawpllc.com.

Published by Lisa Mathews

Will and Trust Lawyer in Northern Virginia