Mistakes in completing beneficiary forms for retirement accounts, investment portfolios or IRAs can cause some issues in probate and estate administration. In the best cases, beneficiary forms are aligned with all the other plans you have for your estate. In the worst cases, they don't exist or are opposite the information in your estate. Here's a look at three mistakes you can make with regard to beneficiary forms.
The first mistake is simply not completing them at all. If you own any type of account where a beneficiary form is an option, then you might be able to pass that asset along to someone without it being caught up in probate. The benefits of this include a faster transfer, which can be important to someone who has just lost a major source of both emotional and financial support, and keeping your assets out of the public eye of probate.
A second mistake you might make is naming your estate as a beneficiary on these forms. This just punts the ball back into the probate court and it can be vague enough to cause some issues when it comes to how your heirs will inherit certain pieces of your wealth. Instead, choose a person or persons to name as your beneficiary and you ensure that your spouse, children or other heirs are able to reap the benefits of your savings or retirement accounts.
Finally, don't make the mistake of neglecting outdated forms. Review and update your forms regularly, else your current spouse might find that a former spouse is the legal beneficiary of your IRA account. If you have any questions or want to avoid these types of mistakes when estate planning, work with a professional who can guide you through the entire process.
Source: Bankrate, "5 IRA beneficiary form mistakes to avoid," Shelly K. Schwartz, accessed Dec. 02, 2016