Be Sure Your IRA Beneficiaries are Designated Beneficiaries

Understanding the difference between IRA & Designated Beneficiaries

Family on BeachIRAs have beneficiaries and “designated beneficiaries,” and it is important to know the difference. If you wish your heirs to have the opportunity to take full advantage of “stretch” IRAs, and to avoid other possibly costly mistakes, be sure your heirs are designated beneficiaries. Here’s the difference and why it matters.

Basics

The beneficiary that inherits an IRA can be an individual or a legal entity such as a charity or an estate.  But a designated beneficiary must be a living person ‘with a pulse’ who is named on the beneficiary form of the IRA.

The major advantages of a designated beneficiary are:

Distributions from inherited IRAs can be stretched over a designated beneficiary’s lifetime, possibly allowing decades of tax-favored investment returns to be earned in the IRA.

The IRA passes directly to a designated beneficiary, escaping complications like probate.

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Avoiding Spousal Beneficiary Mistakes in 5 Easy Steps

Who is a spouse beneficiary? Spousal Beneficiary

A spouse beneficiary must be married to the account owner at the time of the account owner’s death, and he or she must be named on the beneficiary form (or inherit directly through the document default provisions).  A spousal beneficiary has a number of unique options

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Life Insurance vs. Roth IRAs

3 BIG Differences Between Life Insurance & Roth IRAs

insurance vs Roth IRAsLife insurance and Roth IRAs have a basic structure in common. They are both wealth transfer tools that help facilitate an efficient transfer of assets from one generation to the next, and they both can provide a tax-free legacy. Despite their many similarities, Roth IRAs and life insurance are very different, and the rules that apply to one don’t always apply to the other. In fact, more often than not, that’s the case. Below, we discuss the differences between the two retirement planning vehicles.

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There’s More to Estate Planning Than Just the Will

Article Credits: The New York Times | September 6, 2014 | By Alina Tugend | Courtesy of Ed Slott and Company

More to Estate Planning Than Just the WillWILLS, health care directives, lists of passwords to online accounts. By now, most people know they should prepare these items in their estate planning — even if they haven’t yet — and make them available to trusted family members before the unthinkable, yet inevitable, happens.

But the information family and friends will need when a loved one dies goes far beyond those much-talked-about documents, and having them can make the end of life just a little less painful for those who remain behind.

Consider the experience of John J. Scroggin, who runs a tax business and estate-planning firm in Atlanta. His father, who died in 2001, wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

“I called Arlington and they told me I needed his DD 214 to bury him at the cemetery.” Mr. Scroggin recalled. “I had never heard of a DD 214, but they told me if I could not find it, they would put him in cold storage for six months while they found it.”

After a frantic search, “I found Dad’s DD 214 as a bookmark in a book,” he said. The Arlington burial took place. The lesson: Add military discharge papers to the documents you hand over to family members or trusted friends.

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