Your IRA, 401 (k), pension plan and other qualified plans can transfer at death without the need for probate by designating a named beneficiary.
When you open a retirement savings account (such as an IRA), you have the option of naming a beneficiary. This beneficiary designee stipulates where these assets will go when you pass away. A beneficiary form commonly takes precedence over a will, because retirement accounts do not fall under probate.
If it has been a while since you named the beneficiary on your accounts, it makes good sense to review them if you be a mistake for your IRA and other pension assets being inherited by someone you no longer trust or love.
One situation to avoid is leaving the designation blank on the beneficiary form because then the IRA assets may be distributed according to the default provision set by the IRA custodian (the brokerage firm or insurance company custodial hosting the IRA account).
Keep your planning simple, name a beneficiary. If in the future you want to name someone else, easy, you are in control.
This might also be an excellent time to review all your beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies, annuity contracts, and bank accounts. Bank accounts allow for TOD (transfer on death) forms which can also help you avoid probate.
Simple planning with a named beneficiary can save money, time and possibly undo tax liability.
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