Effectively obtaining your property to the successor of final decision requires a little know-how and awareness. In most cases, retirement pension plans and other qualified plans go to their selected beneficiaries immediately at your death; they don't have to be probated. But you have got to be on the ball about who's designated as a successor and where.
Suppose you write down a will where you select your beneficiaries for the possessions. Have you looked after them? Not really if your retirement pension plans are a significant advantage and you never assigned a beneficiary in your retirement pension plan document. It is the plan document that guidelines, not your will or living trust.
Case one: missing beneficiary designation in your retirement pension plans
When you pass away, your property becomes the 'first' beneficiary of your 'missing beneficiary' retirement pension plans. Sadly, that defeats the majority of the tax-sheltering benefits the pensions may afford the successor. Your plan suffers 2 undesirable circumstances:
1.Your own retirement pension plan possessions must go through probate and be subject to estate taxes. And then
two.Your beneficiaries (not including your spouse) must distribute your retirement pension plans or other certified programs within five years of your death.
The first scenario can tie up use of your retirement pension plans in the probate procedure and add charges. If your estate is sufficiently big, estate taxes may rob some if its assets.
The 2nd forces distribution of your retirement pension plans at ordinary revenue tax rates to your non-spouse beneficiary. This prevents the tax-sheltering of its growth over the 'stretch years' based on the beneficiary's remaining life expectancy.
Situation 2: A non-updated Beneficiary in your retirement pension plan
You have pensions you initially designated to a successor who no more is your choice. If you have married and do not change your successor designation, then the initial successor will inherit your retirement pension plans.
Case 3: A non-authorized change in successor on your retirement pension plan
In case your spouse is assigned as successor of your pensions, you can't change to a new successor without her authorization. She should sign a written waiver.
Are all your beneficiary designations on your retirement pension plans, certified plans and IRAs consistent with your present wishes? Here's a way to make sure you don't get messed up having the property get less-than-optimal procedure.
If you have several plans, you can set up a special trust to be successor of all of your tax-sheltered assets. Then, when your life situation modifications (marriage, divorce, new kids, grandkids, etc), you simply have to change the one document, the trust. At death, all your retirement pension plans along with other retirement plan resources will 'pour' in to the trust after which get allocated as you've stipulated there.