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Retirement accounts and avoiding probate

Many people save all their life so they can one day retire. While saving for retirement is a very good idea, you may have concerns about what will happen to the money when you pass on.

You will name a beneficiary of your retirement account. For most people, this is a spouse or child. This is the person who will receive the money when you pass on.

Here is the question: will money in a retirement account be subject to probate?

Funds in retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, do not go through probate when you pass away. The beneficiary that you have named can claim the money without any fear that it should first pass through probate.

When you first open a retirement account, you are asked to name a beneficiary. If this person changes for any reason, such as due to death or divorce, it is important to change the beneficiary information.

If you are married, your spouse may have some rights to your retirement money. So, if you decide to leave your account to somebody else, make sure you are able to do so.

There are many types of assets that are subject to probate when you pass on, but retirement accounts are not among them. All you need to do is name the right beneficiary. This will put your mind at ease, knowing the money will end up in the right hands when you pass away.

If you don't remember who you named as your retirement account beneficiary, now is the time to review the necessary paperwork. It may be time to make a change.

Source: Inc., "Ways to Avoid Probate," accessed Jan. 11, 2016

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