The Importance of Keeping Your Beneficiaries Up-to-Date


The topic of beneficiaries is sensitive, because no one likes to think about it. But it’s important to think about what will happen to your finances after you’re gone.

A little planning now can help make sure your assets are distributed exactly as you intend when that time comes.

Here are three tips for ensuring that your beneficiaries stay accurate, up-to-date and in line with your wishes.

1. Review and confirm your beneficiaries today.

Naming a beneficiary while enrolling for your 403(b), 401(k) and insurance products is of utmost importance because your beneficiary designations take precedence over your will.

Designating a primary and secondary beneficiary is critical to securing the distribution of assets upon your death. The primary beneficiary will receive survivor benefits payable from the plans listed on your beneficiary form. You may designate more than one primary beneficiary by allocating different percentages (totaling 100%) of your account to each individual.

By keeping both your primary and secondary beneficiary designations up-to-date, you will make sure assets are still inherited according to your wishes should something happen to your primary beneficiary.

Utilizing the term “per stirpes” indicates that you desire benefits to be paid to the children of your primary beneficiary — based on your designation — should your primary beneficiary predecease you.

Establishing a trust in your will is a good idea if you plan to designate a minor as your beneficiary. Since GuideStone® cannot pay survivor benefits directly to a minor, establishing a trust and naming it in your will allows for a more streamlined delivery of benefits to the minor named in the trust.

To review and confirm your beneficiaries, log into your MyGuideStone® account, select the “My Profile” tab and then choose the “Beneficiaries” tab.

2. Update your designations after any change in family status.

When your family changes, one of the first things you should do is update your beneficiaries. So whether you marry, have children, experience a divorce or suffer the loss of a loved one, make sure that your beneficiary designations are updated accordingly.

If you don’t make sure both your primary and secondary beneficiaries are up-to-date, an outdated beneficiary could inherit your retirement plan money, no matter what your will says.

To name a new beneficiary, all you’ll need is the person’s birth date and Social Security number. It is important to note that, like most financial firms, GuideStone requires that if other people — in addition to the spouse — are named as primary beneficiaries, then spousal consent is also required.

3. Review your beneficiary selections annually.

Most people keep the same beneficiaries for many years, so it may help to set a reminder to review your selections annually. Because so much time can pass between changes, it’s easy to overlook this simple, important update.

If you realize you need to update your beneficiary, log into your MyGuideStone account to make the necessary changes. The new beneficiary designation will be effective the date the signed form is received at GuideStone. It is important to note that payment is not retroactive. If GuideStone has taken any action or made any payment before the form is received, the change in beneficiary will not go into effect until the following payment cycle.

We know it’s not your favorite topic, but following these informative tips will help to ensure your survivor benefits are paid as you wish.

If you have questions about making changes, contact GuideStone online any time or call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST Monday–Friday.