To help reduce headaches for your heirs and make sure your assets are distributed in accordance with your real wishes, it pays to give due attention to your IRAs' beneficiary designations from the get-go.
In our busy lives, some things just fall through the cracks.
Did you change the batteries in your smoke detectors when we switched to Daylight Savings Time?
Did you change the oil in your car after you reached another 5,000 miles?
And—did you update your IRA beneficiaries when you switch financial providers?
This last question points out a common oversight that is easily forgotten.
Morningstar provided some important guidance on this subject in a recent article titled “Dos and Don'ts for Leaving IRA Assets to Your Loved Ones.”
So, take five minutes and make sure that the information for your beneficiaries is up-to-date and accurate. People move and change phone numbers. You want to make sure that there are no issues with your IRA proceeds getting into the hands of those you've designated as beneficiaries.
Another thing to watch for is naming a minor child as the beneficiary of your IRA. In some cases, children under the age of 18 or 21—depending where you reside—can't be the beneficiaries of life insurance policies, retirement plans, or annuities. If you'd want to leave IRA assets to a minor, speak to an estate planning attorney about your options.
Take the time to check.
And while you're at it, change the oil in your car and the smoke detector batteries.
Reference: Morningstar, February 28, 2014: “Dos and Don'ts for Leaving IRA Assets to Your Loved Ones”