It is 9 a.m., do you know who your beneficiaries are?

I remember a television public service announcement  that showed a nighttime scene of a city street and an announcer saying, "It is 10 p.m., do you know where your children are?"  I imagine the parents who saw it asking themselves that question and being concerned if they didn't know the answer.   Here is another question, it is 9 a.m., do you know who your beneficiaries are?  These days people have jointly held assets including accounts payable on death, IRAs payable on death, annuities payable on death, coops that are jointly owned, or jointly owned homes.  It is important to know that a Will or a Trust does not override the joint ownership or beneficiary designations in these documents.  If left as is, these items are inherited "by operation of law" regardless of the language of a Will or a Trust.  These are also known as non-probate assets.  Estate planning requires knowing every beneficiary of every account and making an estate plan based on the total picture. #