• Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste

Reasons to Check and Update Beneficiaries on Your Maryland Estate Planning Documents

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

You have every reason to pat yourself on the back if you have already created documents such as a will, a trust, or beneficiary designations on certain accounts you may have when setting up a Maryland estate plan. Even though you have taken enormous steps in making sure that your wishes will be followed, you are not out of the woods yet.

Though you might have liked to forget about mortality and your estate plan, you need to keep your estate planning documents current and periodically review them to ensure you are not one of the staggering 71.6% of Americans in 2016 who do not have an up-to-date will.

Beneficiary Designation Forms

Though for real and personal property you can designate beneficiaries by creating a will, it is important you realize other assets are not affected by the will. For example, Maryland’s State Retirement and Pension System (MSRPS) benefits and life insurance benefits are among those other assets requiring the recipient of the benefits to complete separate beneficiary designation forms setting forth who their beneficiaries will be for each separate asset. A beneficiary designation form supersedes any inconsistent designations in your will and governs asset distribution. So, failure to make the necessary changes to the beneficiary forms will result in unintended consequences.

Account for Life Changes

Creating estate plans often give individuals the belief they can forget about reviewing and updating documents whenever family life changes occur. This means you create unintended results if the documents do not reflect, among other things:

  • Births

  • Deaths

  • Divorces

  • Marriages

This means the death of a family member may send assets to their estate instead of them directly, your recent ex-husband may receive benefits you would not want them to after the divorce, or your new granddaughter may not receive any assets because she was not born when your plan was created and you didn’t keep the relevant documents updated.


Even the most accomplished estate planning professionals are human; this means though they are putting in their best efforts to create the right documents and carry out your wishes, mistakes are sometimes made. Reading every form created before you sign them is critical on your part to preventing unintended omissions of beneficiaries.

Speak to a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney Today

Creating your estate plan is a huge step forward in ensuring the people you intend receive designated assets from your estate and your wishes on various critical issues are followed. However, even if your plan mirrored your intentions exactly when created, it is important to remember if life does not always go as plan your desires may change along as the situation does. To make sure that your estate plan stays in line with the current state of your family relationships and your finances, schedule a consultation with our office and let's get started.

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