Is Your IRA Paperwork in Order?

It doesn't matter what your will says, the money in your IRA or other retirement accounts will go to the designated beneficiary of the account. If you haven't done so recently, get out your account paperwork and review the beneficiary forms to make sure that they name the persons you want the cash to go to. If you can't put your hands on the forms, call your retirement account custodian and ask for them.

“Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.”—Ruth E. Renkel

It doesn’t matter what your will says, the money in your IRA or other retirement accounts will go to the designated beneficiary of the account. If you haven’t done so recently, get out your account paperwork and review the beneficiary forms to make sure that they name the persons you want the cash to go to. If you can’t put your hands on the forms, call your retirement account custodian and ask for them.

This is no small deal. If the assets in your retirement accounts are the bulk of your estate, you want to know that the right people will get them when you die. If you’ve gone through a divorce, for example, you may want to be sure that your ex-spouse is no longer the chief beneficiary on any of your retirement accounts. If you’ve named your children as beneficiaries, you need to make arrangements to see that your spouse is provided for. Not having any beneficiary is bad news too. The assets in the IRA would then become part of your estate, which could have disastrous tax consequences as well as delaying the distribution of the assets to your heirs.

Once you’ve checked out the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, you should also make sure you have a durable power of attorney, which would let someone you trust make financial decisions for you if you’re not capable, and a living will and health-care proxy that spells out what sort of end-of-life medical treatment you want and empowers someone to make healthcare decisions for you, if necessary.

62%Percentage of Americans who think the government should tax the wealthy more.(Harris Poll, 2008)

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