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IRA Beneficiary Designations

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IRA customer wants to designate as her beneficiaries her son and her daughter (5050), but if something happens to her daughter, she wants to ensure that her daughter's children receive equal parts of the daughter's share what does she need to do to make sure this happens?

If we were talking about her will, she would leave 1/2 her estate to her son, "per stirpes" and 1/2 to her daughter, "per stirpes." That little injection of Latin means that if one of the children predeceases her, the funds would go equally to that child's offspring.

It would be the personal representative of the estate's job to determine who the children were, establish which ones were still alive and whether those who predeceased their mother had children of their own, locate them, figure out how state law might treat any step children and a variety of other issues.

If your institution allows her to put similar language on her beneficiary designation it will have the same effect, except that your bank will be responsible for doing all the legwork before it distributes the funds.

Most institutions require that POD beneficiaries be specifically named; they will not accept even partial responsibility for settling a decedent's estate. The account owner has the responsibility to keep the beneficiary designation up to date in the event of death, divorce or a simple change of heart.

First published on 2/4/02

First published on 02/04/2002

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