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By regularly reviewing and updating your beneficiary information, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your current wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of in the way that you intended. In most cases, retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401(k)s will typically require you to name a beneficiary when you set up the account. Since qualified retirement plans pass directly to a named beneficiary, the often-lengthy probate process, attorneys’ fees, and other costs associated with wills and settling estates are avoided. It’s important to keep in mind that life events such marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death of a beneficiary may warrant a review and update of your beneficiary information.
Designating beneficiaries ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. If you don’t name a beneficiary or your named beneficiary predeceases you in death and you haven’t named an alternative, then your retirement account may be subject to the default provisions specified in the plan document by plan administrator, or applicable law rules of the account custodian which may not align with your wishes. For example, the default rules may stipulate that your account assets will pass to your surviving spouse, if you have one. If you don’t have a surviving spouse, the assets may be distributed to your heirs according to the laws of your state of residence, which may not align with your desired distribution plan. This could result in delays, additional costs, or a distribution of your assets that may not reflect your wishes. Your assets may be distributed according to outdated instructions or even end up in the hands of someone you did not intend to receive them. This can cause unnecessary stress and financial burden for your loved ones.
The choice of a beneficiary for your retirement accounts is a personal decision that depends on your individual circumstances and goals. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:
It’s important to keep in mind that the choice of a beneficiary for your retirement accounts should be based on your personal circumstances, goals, and estate planning needs. It’s always a good idea to consult with an estate planning attorney or financial advisor to help you make informed decisions about your retirement account beneficiaries. Remember – not all beneficiaries are treated alike.
* This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice.
Investment advisory services offered through ACT Wealth Management, LLC, a registered investment adviser.
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