Taxes & Insurance

Your will won’t affect your IRA or other tax-deferred retirement plan. In some cases, you may handle the disposition of this valuable source of wealth in less than a minute by jotting down a few words on a mass-produced form.

That may be a mistake. Just as you’d draft a will or trust that covers all contingencies, regarding your assets, you should do the same with your retirement plan assets.


With proper planning, an IRA can span generations and pay out multiples of the amount you accumulate. In the absence of detailed instructions, though, tax deferral may be cut short.

Moreover, the lack of a proper succession plan for your IRA may lead to familial strife and ease the way for future predators who are tempted by the substantial amounts involved.

The real problem is that a custodian’s own form is often too limiting. One answer is to prepare a customized beneficiary designation form to supplement or replace the form IRA custodians provide.

A customized form can be of any length, with as much detail as you’d include in a will. In this document you can spell out how you’d like your IRA to be handled, no matter what circumstances arise.