Certain types of assets, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts and certain annuities allow the owner to designate one or more beneficiaries to inherit those accounts at death.  Assets that have beneficiary designations generally avoid the probate process at death and pass directly to the designated beneficiary.  Because the beneficiary designations, and not your estate plan, control the disposition of retirement accounts, life insurance contracts, annuities, and any other accounts with a designated beneficiary, it is critical to periodically review your beneficiary designations to verify that they are in harmony with your estate plan.