Singer Barry White and actor Heath Ledger were both highly talented performers, yet both made the same big mistake when it came to their estate planning, Kaitlin Pitzker explains in a Kiplinger Magazine article – they didn’t update their beneficiary designations.

When White died, he was separated from his second wife, but not yet divorced. The wife ended up inheriting everything, while White’s nine children received no inheritance at all. Heath Ledger, meanwhile, neglected to change his beneficiary designations after his daughter was born, so that all his assets went to his parents.

The lesson here, Pitzker explains, is this: Use life-changing events as triggers to review and update your estate planning documents, and in particular the beneficiaries named on any financial accounts.

At Geyer Law, we agree. Events that might trigger a new look at beneficiary designations might include:

  • divorce
  • marriage (or remarriage)
  • birth of a child
  • an adoption
  • death of a beneficiary
  • receipt of an inheritance or a lottery win
  • a change in a business arrangement
  • a life-changing medical diagnosis

In fact, at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, we understand how different aspects of estate planning are so often woven together with business planning and unusual family dynamics. Decisions about beneficiary designations may relate to same-sex family issues, premarital agreements, or planning for individuals with special needs.

Family dynamics, financial situations, and health situations are all subject to change over time. Make sure you’re still sure – about those beneficiary designations!