What you decide to do with retirement accounts, can be a major enhancement to your estate plan.
IRA retirement benefits can be used as a way to balance out other bequests and it can be used to support other estate planning goals. There are also tax implications to consider, according to Morningstar in "Who Should Inherit Your IRA?"
Among the options are:
- Spouse - If your spouse is the beneficiary he or she can roll your IRA into their own. However, it might not make sense to designate a spouse, if they are nearing the age of having to take required minimum distributions and will not need the money.
- Child or Grandchild - If they inherit the IRA, then they can stretch the benefits out over their own lifetimes. However, as a practical matter, few do so because they need the money.
- Charity - Your estate can get a tax deduction, if you leave your IRA to a charity. It can be complicated, so get expert advice before filing out a beneficiary designation form.
- Your estate - There is not much benefit to naming your estate as the beneficiary. However, if you cannot decide on another option, you can do so.
- A trust - Ordinarily, there is no benefit to leaving your IRA to a trust. However, if the beneficiary would otherwise be a minor child or unable to manage their finances, it might be necessary to do so.
Reference: Morningstar (March 2, 2018) "Who Should Inherit Your IRA?"