Why are beneficiary designations important in estate planning?

If you have a retirement plan (e.g., IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.) or own a life insurance policy, you are probably familiar with the concept of a beneficiary designation. Assets that pass by beneficiary designations will pass directly to your named beneficiary, overriding any contrary provisions that may exist in your will. Failing to review beneficiary designations could wreck other parts of your overall estate plan because they typically override other estate planning documents such as a will. A complete estate plan includes making sure any accounts you have with a beneficiary designation(s) work effectively and efficiently to achieve your overall estate planning goals.