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February 02, 2001|LIZ PULLIAM WESTON

Checklist: Beneficiaries

Things to do this weekend with your money

Last week's checklist covered updating your estate plans. Now it's time to check the beneficiary designations on your financial accounts and insurance policies.

* Whom you name as a beneficiary on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies can have profound tax and estate-planning repercussions. To learn more, talk with an estate-planning attorney or read Denis Clifford's "Plan Your Estate" (Nolo Press, 2000). Several Web sites, including Vanguard Group at www.vanguard.com and Bankrate.com at www.bankrate.com have information on choosing beneficiaries.

* Check to make sure your retirement accounts list the correct beneficiaries--the people you want the money to go to when you die. In most cases, you'll need to list a primary beneficiary--typically a spouse if you're married--and contingency beneficiaries, who would get the money if your primary beneficiary dies before you do.

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