Will Your Heirs Get the Cash You Want Them to Have?

Financial Advisor talking to senior couple at home

Blank or missing paperwork can send pension, IRA and 401(k) money astray

You’re probably tired of my yammering about having the correct beneficiaries listed on your retirement plans. If you die suddenly, will the right people inherit your money, as opposed to the people (maybe now dead, maybe no longer married to you) that you listed 20 years ago? But there’s another important issue that I haven’t spoken about. What if you haven’t filled out your beneficiary form at all? What if the plan’s custodian misplaces it (that happens!) and your heirs don’t have a copy?

What started me wondering was the dreadful experience of a multiple sclerosis patient, the wife of a New Mexico State University employee. After her husband’s sudden death at 66, she was denied his pension because no one could find the beneficiary form. The state wouldn’t accept his will as proof that he wanted her to inherit the money. More than two years into her struggle, and after a newspaper ran a story about her, the state agreed that she really was her husband’s pension beneficiary. Finally, she is being paid