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Retirement Accounts and Pocatello Estate Planning

Before creating an estate plan for our clients, our Pocatello Estate Planning attorneys meet with each client to discuss their options and to help them make choices that will customize their estate plan for them. During these meetings clients often ask questions about how what will happen to their retirement accounts when they die. Common questions include how their accounts will be disbursed after they pass away and whether their written Last Will and Testament will control these disbursements.

Our Pocatello Estate Planning attorneys have helped clients with these and other estate planning questions and concerns for over 70 years. We use our experience and knowledge to customize each client’s plan to fit their lives and circumstances. Partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley create an award winning Estate Planning team of Attorneys in Pocatello who can help you. When it comes to dealing with and handling retirement accounts after a person has passed away, there are three specific things you should know.

What Your Estate Plan Does not Include

The most important thing you should know is what your estate plan does not include. Clients are often surprised to know that they can own property that will not be included in their estate when they die. To keep things simple, these types of property typically involve life insurance and retirement accounts. Most people understand how life insurance works. You sign a contract with an insurance company stating that if you pay your agreed upon monthly premium payments, the life insurance company will pay an agreed upon sum of money to whoever you name when you die. Retirement accounts, such as “IRA”, or 401K, 403(b) or a pension of some sort are similar.

These types of retirement accounts are individually owned. But because they are handled by an “administrator” there is a contract involved. That contract, just like an insurance contract, usually includes the ability to name a beneficiary or person who the administrator will pay the account monies to when you die. Because of this, retirement accounts are controlled by the contact and not by a Last Will and Testament.

How to Deal With Retirement Accounts

The next most important thing to know and understand is how to deal with your retirement account. Even though your retirement account will likely not be a part of your estate, you still have the ability to decide who the money in your retirement account will be paid to when you die. The contract you entered into when you opened your retirement account gave you the opportunity name a person or a group of people as the beneficiary of your account. If you don’t remember whose name you put in that section or even whether you put any name in that section, don’t panic. You are still in complete control. Because you own the retirement account you can go to the administrator any time you want to look over all of the papers you filled out, including the paper naming beneficiaries. Also, because you are the owner of the account, you can also change the name of the beneficiary any time you want. In other words, you aren’t stuck with your choice if you change your mind. You can change your beneficiary at any time and as often as you’d like. In this way you have complete control in deciding who will receive the money in your account.

When to Review Your Accounts Often

The third thing you should know about your retirement accounts is when you should review them. Many of our clients tell us that it has been years, and sometimes even decades since they reviewed their retirement account paperwork. Some clients don’t remember ever filling out such paperwork. If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. You can meet with and talk to your account administrator at any time. If you don’t know who you listed as your retirement account beneficiaries, schedule a meeting with your account administrator.

Additionally, there are other specific times when reviewing how you have your retirement accounts set up is a good idea. Life is ever changing and because of this you certain event may happen that will make you want to change your retirement accounts beneficiaries. For instance, if you go through a divorce, or become married, or if your spouse or child passes away, your current plan may become obsolete. Worse, I’ve never met any person who wants their retirement accounts to go to an ex-spouse after a divorce happens. If you don’t change your beneficiaries, this could still happen. Any type of major life change may lead you to change your listed beneficiaries. Regularly review your estate plan, including your retirement accounts, and make sure your plan is what you really want.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

If you own a retirement accounts or a pension, our Pocatello Estate Planning attorneys can help you make sure that your wishes are carried out with these accounts after you die. We are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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