Year end planning: Getting your beneficiaries in order.
One of the unfortunate complications of having a broad and robust a benefits package is that there are a number of different programs that require a separate beneficiary designation on a variety of different platforms. Below is a helpful list to check against to make sure you have assigned beneficiaries everywhere you need to.
Before you get started make sure you have on hand the birthdates and social security numbers of whomever you are designating as a beneficiary. We are going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you know their name and address already.
401(k) – You will want to designate a beneficiary for your 401(k). Your beneficiary will be able to maintain the tax favored status of your 401(k) by rolling it into a separate IRA or even combining with their own 401(k) if their employer’s plan allows for it. To select a beneficiary log on to www.netbenefits.com and select the “Menu” link that is in the banner on top of the tiles. In there you will see an icon for beneficiaries. You may see several employers if you have worked at other places that also use Fidelity. Select “NC Transactions Inc.” for any of the News Corp companies. From there you will see a list of any of the retirement plans you have at News Corp. Select each plan and designate the primary and secondary beneficiaries.
Life Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Supplemental Life Insurance Business Travel Accident, and Optional Accidental Death & Dismemberment – Your life insurance elections are maintained by our Benefits Enrollment vendor. To elect beneficiaries for Life Insurance log on to www.link2mybenefits.com and log in. Select the “Current Enrollment” option from the middle of the page. Click the blue “Next” button through three screens until you arrive at the “Beneficiaries” page. From there you can designate the primary and secondary beneficiaries by selecting the “Add New Beneficiary” button.
Group Variable Universal Life Insurance (GVUL) – For employees who are eligible for GVUL coverage through MetLife in lieu of the Supplemental Life Insurance benefit – that designation is taken directly on the MetLife www.mybenefits.metlife.com website. Once logged in select the GVUL hyperlink at the top of the list. On the GVUL page you will see a tab for “beneficiaries”. If none have been designated use the “Modify Beneficiaries” button to add or change your election.
Health Savings Accounts and Brokerage Accounts – For those who have elected the Aetna CDHP plan or Aetna Basic Choice plan – you may have a Health Savings Account for use against current or future medical expenses. The Health Savings Account is managed by Fidelity Inc and would be supported under the Fidelity Brokerage services. You can access this via www.netbenefits.com and select the Health Savings Account tile on the home screen. From there you will be taken to your Health Savings Account page. Select the “Update Beneficiaries” option that is above the tab banner.
A word about leaving money to minors:
Please note if you designate any minors directly (younger than 18 or 21 depending on the state) as a beneficiary they will not be able to access any of the assets you leave behind until they attain age 18 or 21. If your intention is that these assets would be available for their ongoing care you will want to create and Estate or a Trust and appoint an Executor / Trustee who would have explicit instructions from you on how you wish your assets to be used in the interim period. Within that document you can then identify at what point any remaining assets would be distributed. If you are doing this – it is the Estate or Trust, which should be identified as the beneficiary above.
Want to learn more about establishing a Trust or Estate? Use any of these resources:
- Hyatt legal if you have elected Supplemental Life Insurance.
- MetLaw if you have enrolled in our Voluntary Group Legal program.
- Resources for Living if either of the above don’t apply to you and you need to source a legal resource.
- Barnum Financial if you want to speak to a Financial Advisor to better understand which route best meets your needs.
What happens if I haven’t selected a beneficiary? If you have not elected a beneficiary generally standard probate rules apply and your assets would be distributed to your estate and would follow the form of distribution along with the rest. Keep in mind for 401(k) and IRA’s this would require the money be distributed and taxed immediately.
If you want to read more, this great Wall Street Journal article on establishing beneficiaries is a great resource. Additionally our benefits vendors are ready and able to help with any questions you might have on how to apply your beneficiaries to their various sites.