IRA and 401(k) plans and beneficiaries

The Law Office of Jeffrey L. Weinstein

If you have beneficiaries listed on your IRA and 401(k) plans the money in those accounts will go directly to the beneficiaries and not into probate after you die. If your spouse is a beneficiary, then the money goes directly to them as an inheritance. If the person is not a relation, the assets get put into an inherited IRA account.

Now, if you remarry and don’t change the beneficiary on your accounts, your ex will get the money whether you want them to or not. That is why it is important you keep up with your accounts.

Let’s say you get divorced. Years later, you remarry. You hopefully updated your will so that your new spouse would inherit your assets upon your death.. But you don’t change your retirement account beneficiaries. Then you die.

Your home will pass to your new spouse. Life insurance proceeds go to your new spouse too. But what about your 401(k)? That’s going to your ex because you never updated the 401k designation form. Your 401(k) account does not follow the terms of the will like other assets. The beneficiary designation form is the guiding document, which is a disadvantage in this case. In order to avoid similar scenarios, make sure that you periodically review an update those 401(K) and IRA beneficiary designation forms, especially if you’ve had any major family changes since you set up the plan.

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