Many types of property and investments pass outside of probate and allow you to designate who will receive them after your death. It is important that these designations are kept up to date and are consistent with the rest of your estate plan.
When choosing a beneficiary for a retirement plan, it is important to understand how your spouse will be treated under the plan. Surviving spouses are treated differently under 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). While a 401(k) provides protections for a surviving spouse, an IRA does not.