Naming or changing beneficiaries
During the time of setting up your 401K account, you will be asked to fill in a form. There will be a section dedicated to naming your 401K beneficiaries. You can add the name of the beneficiary here or change it in the same way in future. You will have to ask for a new form to change the name.
It is advisable that one should change or update their beneficiary details every year or two because it is an important detail for 401K accounts. It is a crucial point to put a beneficiary name because if it is left blank the estate may be considered the beneficiary, and hence, will claim all the rights. There are two ways an estate will become the beneficiary: when you name them as the beneficiary and the other when the space is left blank.
You should also consider revising or going through the financial statements and situations every now and then, as required. If you feel lost, please contact a legal advisor.
Primary and Secondary 401K Beneficiaries
Primary beneficiary is your first option to receive the retirement pensions during your absence. Primary beneficiary is not just limited to naming one person. So, you can add more than one person as the primary beneficiary. They can be anyone as long as you trust them.
The secondary beneficiary is the one who will receive the benefits if the primary beneficiary declines to accept the benefits or they do not survive you.
Having multiple beneficiaries
If you wish to name more than one beneficiary, you can do so by mentioning the percentage of the benefits those persons will receive. You may also state the name of the beneficiary should the current beneficiaries do not survive you.
If you have more than one account, you can also designate each account to different beneficiaries. So that after you, the beneficiaries can pay the income taxes through distribution and may get tax deferrals.
Spouse As Beneficiary
It is believed that naming your spouse as your primary beneficiary is the safest option. Because of the fact that when spouses are named beneficiaries, they receive the most flexibility towards paying the income taxes, it is the best choice for a beneficiary.
A spouse can also combine both yours as well as their 401K accounts together. This will mean that they will have more planning options, and provide the best income tax results.
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