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Idaho Estate Planning Coronavirus: Making Sure Your Beneficiaries are Updated

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The Coronavirus has had an impact on every aspect of estate planning. People who are creating a basic estate plan including a written last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care want to make sure that these documents cover all the important things that need to be planned for. Even when these things are done, they’re still more that needs to be completed.

Once your estate planning documents are completed, the next most important thing that you need to do during the Coronavirus pandemic is make sure that your named beneficiaries are updated on all the third-party contracts you have. Third-party contracts are a written contract you have with a third-party company such as life insurance, a 401k account, an IRA, and annuity accounts, and other similar items. The account or insurance that you have often is for your benefit, but it also allows you to name a beneficiary who will receive those items when you pass away.

Our goal as the premier Idaho estate planning law firm is to make sure that our clients have not only a complete written estate plan, but also that all their other accounts, properties, retirement accounts, and so forth are also up to date. We have assisted clients with each of these things for more than 70 years, and we are confident that we can help you to.

We begin by assisting our clients for free. Let me see that again so that you can know that it wasn’t a typo. We begin all estate-planning by assisting our clients for FREE. We start by providing a free Estate Planning Questionnaire to our clients that helps them collect all the information they need to complete their estate plan. This free Questionnaire, which you can download from our website, provides a good deal of information to our clients to educate them about the decisions and choices that they will need to think about. It also helps our clients collect relevant information about their children, spouses, and other family members or loved ones that they want or need to have included as part of their estate plan.

Once the free Questionnaire is completed, we then provide a free 30-minute consultation where we meet with our clients and go over the information in the questionnaire. This free consultation gives us a chance to ask questions and to answer the questions that our clients have about their own personal estate planning. We found that providing these services for free to our clients they are much more likely to take the time to gather the information needed to customize their own estate plans.

After the free consultation, we can provide a flat-fee quote of the price of the estate planning options chosen by each of our clients. By doing this, our clients know exactly what it is they will receive in their estate planning documents, and how much it will cost before they are obligated to pay us anything. This gives our clients a no pressure opportunity to decide if they want to hire us in the first place.

Make a List of All Your Third-Party Contracts

Assuming you do have an estate plan, or you are thinking about getting one done, you also need to make a list of all your third-party contracts. This would include any life insurance policies that you have on yourself or on anyone else, your 401k account, any pensions that you have, as well as your traditional and Roth IRAs, and any annuities that you’ve obtained.

If you don’t know what third-party contracts you have, then you won’t miss them and you won’t take the time to make sure your beneficiaries are updated. The easiest place to start is with any employee benefits that you have at your job. After that, think about any insurance contracts that you obtained. Finally, think about any personal account you may have set up either for yourself or for some other person.

Communicate with the Third-Party Administrator With Your Questions

What you have a list of the third-party contracts that you have the next step is to communicate with a third-party administrator. You will want to ask them to provide you with a beneficiary designation form. Alternatively, if you have already designated beneficiaries, you will want the administrator to provide you with the form that you supplied to them so you can verify who your named beneficiaries are.

Communicating with the third-party administrator also gives you an opportunity to ask them any questions that you have about your accounts, your beneficiary designations, or anything else that you are concerned about. The third-party administrator is required to communicate with you about your account and to provide you the information that you request.

Keep Your Beneficiary Designations Updated

Once you have all this information then you are in a position to make sure that your beneficiary designations are updated. This is very important especially if a long period of time has gone by since you have looked these beneficiary designations over.

We have found that life continues to move forward. Things change quickly. You could have been married, or divorced, had a child born, or a family member pass away. If any of these things have happened to you it may have an impact on the beneficiary designations that you have made to your accounts.

Always keep in mind that you have the legal ability to change the beneficiary designations on your third-party accounts anytime you want and as often as you want. This allows you to make sure that you are beneficiary designations are always current and updated.

If you have questions about your beneficiary designations, or any of your third-party contracts, we can help. We have assisted numerous clients through this process, and we are confident that we can help you too. Download our free Estate Planning Questionnaire and schedule your free 30-minute consultation today.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will set up an appointment to answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho estate planning problems.

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