Filling out your company benefit forms might have seemed important at the moment you did it and passed back over to human resources, but what if something were to happen to you.

Does this document still reflect your individual wishes? You probably took a guess during the enrollment process about how many exemptions to claim or payroll tax withholding, selected a medical plan, and identified the beneficiaries for your various employee plans. These plans could include life insurance programs, stock options, stock purchase plans, and the company’s 401(k) plans.

All of this paperwork can easily be forgotten after it’s appropriately filed with your employer. If you are like most people, you probably named your spouse as the primary beneficiary on your company benefit plan designations. If you noted a contingency or back up beneficiary, it was likely your children.

The secondary designation is probably something you didn’t give a great deal of thought to when filling out the paperwork, but plans could have changed or your individual life circumstances could have altered if your primary beneficiary has since passed away or is a spouse to whom you are no longer married.

If any of the contingency beneficiaries are no longer alive or able to access this information, this could prove problematic and might be something that your family members discover after you have already passed away. Set an annual calendar reminder to reflect back on your beneficiary plan designations and make appropriate updates as necessary with your lawyer.

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