It is easy to get confused when planning how you want your lifetime of accumulated assets to be ultimately distributed. Many believe that whom they name in their will and how they apportion those assets, determine who will inherit, and what they will receive. This is true for some, but not all of someone’s assets.
Contract, trust, and property law control how certain assets are passed at death. Any assets controlled by these laws avoid probate and therefore supersede your will.
By naming beneficiaries on your 401(k) or on your insurance policy you are signing a contract stating that, at my death pay this person my benefits. It doesn’t matter that you name someone different in your will; those assets will pass by contract law to the named beneficiary.
Please take time every year to review your beneficiary designations. If you haven’t done so, there is no time like the present to schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney.