Naming the Right Beneficiary Can Benefit You
Barron's Online (02/07/01) Vol. 12, No. 15 p.J1; Savage, Terry

Naming a beneficiary is a way of extending the growth of certain assets and simplifying the distribution process. Too often, mistakes are made, potentially subjecting heirs to heavy estate taxes and creating a host of other monetary problems. Of course, the number one mistake is the failure to name a beneficiary. A simple solution to this problem is to check one's retirement account for a listing of heir(s). Another common mistake is naming a minor as a beneficiary. If a person dies before their child reaches age 18--without setting up a trust mechanism--the state determines where the cash is invested and when it is withdrawn. By setting up a trust and naming a trusted friend as trustee, the money will remain "safe" until the child reaches age 18. Another mistake is naming the wrong beneficiary. Although it seems natural to name one's spouse as the beneficiary of one's Individual Retirement Account, it could be costly. Instead, by leaving already-taxed assets to one's spouse and retirement plan assets to someone younger, those assets will have time to grow, tax-deferred.

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