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Ed Slott and 10 bad things that can happen when there is no designated beneficiary

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Ed Slott and Company hosted its Elite training in Denver April 30 – May 1, with more than 300 member advisors in attendance. Ed Slott was there to preside over the event and provide advisors with IRA training.

Other presenters during the course were Jeff Levine, CPA, and Beverly DeVeny, both technical consultants with Ed Slott and Company.

If you’ve heard Slott speak at an industry event or seen him on PBS just imagine his IRA coverage, but on steroids. The program covered the retirement vehicle from just about every angle imaginable.

As reported during the event, “In the more than 40 years IRAs have been in existence, the retirement vehicle is the largest of its kind with more than $5 trillion invested…

ed slott“With more and more baby boomers entering their golden years, investors are relying heavily on their advisors to shed insight on the complex tax and distribution planning dangers they will face once they are ready to tap into their IRA.

“As an advisor, however, it can be extremely difficult to not only be well-versed on IRA rules, but to also stay up-to-date on the latest IRA updates and changes.”

One of the interesting topics covered during the event dealt with designated beneficiaries.

As material from Slott states, “A designated beneficiary is an individual who is named on the IRA beneficiary form, not in the will.” But what happens when there is no designated beneficiary? The short answer is: a whole lot of bad things.

On the following pages, we’ll cover 10 bad things that can happen when there is no designated beneficiary. disinherited1. Intended beneficiaries may be disinherited  the estate may name different beneficiaries than the IRA beneficiary form.

2. Costly lawsuits and ongoing litigation (beneficiary vs. beneficiary)  When there is more than one beneficiary involved, but there is no designation as to who gets what.

3. No stretch IRA for beneficiaries — less favorable post-death distribution rules will apply depending on when the IRA owner died (before or after their required beginning date). post-death4. 5-year rule will apply to inherited Roth IRAs. Since the Roth IRA has no lifetime required minimum distributions, a Roth IRA owner is always deemed to have died before his required beginning date because there is no required beginning date.

5. No post-death rollovers from company plans to non-spouse beneficiaries. That only applies when there is a designated beneficiary.

6. Negates IRA trust planning. The trust will fail as a see-through trust. divorce7. Post-death disclaimers may not work out according to plan.

8. Can unwind divorce agreements. Ex-spouse may end up being the beneficiary.

9. Can be subject to probate and will contests. This can result in an unintended beneficiary.

10. Can trigger default provisions that may direct the IRA to an unintended beneficiary. For example, defaulting to a second spouse when children from a first marriage were intended.

For more information about Ed Slott and Company’s training programs visit