A retirement plan, such as an IRA, should be incorporated into your estate planning by using beneficiary designation forms. Assets like IRAs with beneficiary designations often transfer outside of the traditional probate process. However, the situation surrounding transfer of such an asset may become complicated without a proper beneficiary designation, or if your Estate has been designated as the beneficiary of the asset.
By default, your Estate will become the beneficiary of your IRA if you have not updated your plan documents. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take, with the guidance of a Michigan estate planning attorney, to verify that your Estate is not the recipient of most of your assets.
There are two primary challenges that arise with your Estate becoming the beneficiary of an IRA.
First, the distribution of a retirement plan will be greatly accelerated, which could be a significant consequence, depending on the age that a person is required to start taking required minimum distributions. Additionally, the impacted retirement plan can become associated with probate because it has no designated beneficiary.
These circumstances are further impacted by probate fees and delays in the probate process. Moreover, assets could ultimately be distributed to unintended beneficiaries. All of these challenges make it generally advisable that you should not name your Estate as your retirement plan beneficiary on either a primary or a contingency basis.
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