The title may sound insensitive, but the sentiment is something real estate planners can’t emphasize enough: make sure everything is prepared before you die.

But it’s not just property division and wills they’re talking about either, it’s the little things that people tend not to forget about like, who have I named as the beneficiary on my insurance policies and my retirement accounts?

Few people know that the named beneficiaries supersede those designated in wills. That’s why many lawyers point out that it’s a good idea to make sure that the names matchup between both sets of documents. By making the necessary changes now to your personal insurance plans, annuities and other financial accounts, you can make sure that assets are distributed according to your wishes. This is especially true in cases of sudden death; making the changes now will ensure that there is little to no confusion down the road.

It’s a good thing to keep in mind that you may place primary and secondary beneficiaries on estates, trusts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and transfer of death accounts. Beneficiaries, as we have mentioned previously to the readers of our blog, can be individuals or organizations. They also do not have to specifically be family members either; they can be friends, trusts, charities or even institutions.

One good way of making sure that your assets are being distributed to the right beneficiaries before you die is to keep copies of your beneficiary designation forms. Don’t have any copies of your forms? Simply request copies from your account providers or complete a new beneficiary designation form. By ensuring that everything is in order before you pass away, you’re saving a lot of headaches for your beneficiaries down the road.

Source: Fox Business, “Protecting Your Assets Even After You’re Gone,” Rick Parmanand, Oct. 26, 2012