IRAs Do Not Pass Through Your Will

Here’s a little fact that you may not realize:  when you assign a beneficiary for your IRA account, you are effectively bypassing any outside action against that account – assuming that the beneficiary assigned is appropriate.IRAs Do Not Pass Through Your Will For most assets that you own, when you pass away, your last will and testament determines who will receive the assets.  You may want to make sure that your daughter gets the heirloom china set, and you son receives the antique car, among other things – so you direct these wishes through your will. If you don’t have a will, the state, through the probate process, will determine how your assets are to be distributed.  Generally this is to your living heirs in order from your surviving spouse to your children and then grandchildren; but it’s different in each state, so it really makes a lot of sense to set up even a simple will to make sure everything goes to the people you want it to. But your IRA doesn’t go through the direction of your will or the probate process, as long as you’ve properly assigned a beneficiary or a group of beneficiaries.  The great thing about this is that, since the assignment is generally cut-and-dried (i.e., beneficiaries are named specifically, so there are no questions), your heirs can immediately access the funds in the IRA account if the need should arise.  See the article here to find out more about proper choices for beneficiaries of an IRA.
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About the author

Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

Jim Blankenship is the founder and principal of Blankenship Financial Planning, Ltd., a financial planning firm providing hourly, as-needed financial planning and advice. A financial services professional for over 25 years, Jim is a CFP professional and has earned the Enrolled Agent designation, a designation that qualifies him as enrolled to practice before the IRS. Jim is also a NAPFA-registered financial advisor, which designates him as a Fee-Only Financial Advisor.

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