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Retirement Perspectives

video

Retirement Analyst Brian Dobbis offers essential info on beneficiary planning for individual retirement accounts. 

Transcript

Narrator: This is Lord Abbett's Retirement Perspectives.

Mike Weldon: This is Mike Weldon, Partner and Director of Marketing at Lord Abbett. Joining me today is Brian Dobbis, Retirement Analyst with Lord Abbett's Private Wealth Group. Brian, over $5 trillion dollars in IRAs, that's an amount that is growing steadily as more and more Americans get focused on retirement. Now some of that will be used for income for the primary owners and then the remainder of it will be passed down eventually to heirs. So you've talked a lot about beneficiary planning, what are some of the things that IRA owners need to know about naming a beneficiary?

Brian Dobbis: Mike, the first thing an IRA account owner needs to know is IRA assets, as well as retirement assets such as a 401(k), are not probate assets. Instead, whomever you've named on your beneficiary form is going to inherit those assets. So it's very important that an IRA account owner reviews their beneficiary forms, at least annually, to confirm that the beneficiaries are consistent with their wishes.

Mike Weldon: So it seems like a pretty simple task but especially for folks who may have done that years, or even decades ago, you've talked a lot about beneficiary errors. What are some of the common errors that IRA owners and 401(k) owners will want to look out for or avoid?

Brian Dobbis: The first thing is, a lot of IRA account owners have that set it and forget it mentality. They've established an IRA 10, 15 years ago, they filled out the paperwork and they haven't reviewed it since. We strongly urge them to take some time, sit down with their financial professional, to review their beneficiary forms to confirm the individual/individuals are still the same folks that you would like to inherit the account.

The second one is not having a beneficiary form, saying I don't need a beneficiary form, my will or my estate will take care of it. As they say, life happens, there are life changes. So please make sure, again, that your beneficiary forms are correct because if not, the person or people you want inheriting your retirement assets may not be inheriting them.

The third one, we see quite frequently, is naming the estate. You generally do not want to name your estate as a beneficiary. I see this quite frequently. By naming the estate, the person or people you want to inherit the IRA may eventually inherit it but then, unfortunately, the IRA does go through probate and it could be a very messy situation.

Mike Weldon: So I know that there are some other errors, those are certainly three of the most common and you've put a paper together that goes into more detail that can be found on our website. So I would encourage all of our viewers to take a look at that. Now, lastly, let's turn to 401(k) plans. So are 401(k) plans subject to the same rules as IRAs?

Brian Dobbis: No Mike, actually they are not, there's different rules for a 401(k) plan versus an IRA. An IRA, generally you can name whoever you want as your beneficiary, whether or not you are married, whereas in a 401(k) plan, 401(k) plans are subject to a federal law, known as ERISA and ERISA states that if you are married, you must name your beneficiary as your spouse. The only way to unwind or change that is via a two-step process. First is your spouse needs to waive their rights. In addition, you need to change the beneficiary form. Usually, most plans require the spouse, when they waive their rights for it to be notarized. Again, in a Traditional IRA, even if you are married, you can name whoever you wish unless you reside in a community property state.

Mike Weldon: Okay and is there any advice you have for viewers on the whole beneficiary planning process?

Brian Dobbis: Review, review, review. Review your forms, sit down with your financial professional, make sure all those proverbial I's are dotted, T's are crossed. Make sure your beneficiaries are correct for your primary, as well as your contingent beneficiaries. A lot of folks out there have multiple IRAs held at different institutions, please make sure you have separate beneficiary forms for each and every IRA that you own. In addition, if you have former employer plans, a 401(k) from a former employer, those forms are updated as well because you do need separate forms for each retirement account that you have.

Mike Weldon: Okay, thanks very much, Brian.

Brian Dobbis: Thank you, Mike.

Mike Weldon: This has been Lord Abbett's Retirement Perspectives. Thanks for watching.

Narrator: For more information on this topic, or to access other videos, audio files, articles or commentary, please explore Lordabbett.com.

The source for the $5 trillion dollars in IRAs mentioned in this video is the Investment Company Institute (ICI) as of the end of the first quarter 2013.

Glossary of Terms

Beneficiary is anybody who gains an advantage and/or profits from something. In the financial world, a beneficiary typically refers to someone who is eligible to receive distributions from a trust, will or life insurance policy. Beneficiaries are either named specifically in these documents or they have met the stipulations that make them eligible for whatever distribution is specified.

IRA Plan is a plan that individuals may establish to arrange and plan for retirement. Generally, an IRA plan allows you to save money and defer taxes until you retire. IRA plans have annual contribution limits that are established by the government and rise gradually with inflation; individuals age 50 and older can make slightly higher "catch-up" contributions.

401(k) Plan is a qualified plan established by employers to which eligible employees may make salary deferral (salary reduction) contributions on a post-tax and/or pretax basis. Employers offering a 401(k) plan may make matching or non-elective contributions to the plan on behalf of eligible employees and may also add a profit-sharing feature to the plan. Earnings accrue on a tax-deferred basis.

This material is being provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal or tax advice. Investors should consult with their appropriate tax, legal, and financial advisor with respect to individual circumstances and all applicable federal, state, and local tax laws.

This broadcast serves as reference material for information purposes only; does not constitute an offer to acquire, solicitation for an offer to acquire, an offer to sell or solicitation for an offer to buy, any securities, nor is intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research, or investment advice on any securities, and cannot be used for any of the foregoing.

The views and opinions expressed by the Lord Abbett speaker are those of the speaker as of the date of the broadcast, and do not necessarily represent the views of the firm as a whole. Any such views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions and Lord Abbett disclaims any responsibility to update such views. Neither Lord Abbett nor the Lord Abbett speaker can be responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.

The value of investments and any income from them is not guaranteed and may fall as well as rise, and an investor may not get back the amount originally invested. Please consult your investment professional for additional information concerning your specific situation.

This broadcast is the copyright ? 2013 of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC. All Rights Reserved. This recording may not be reproduced in whole or in part or any form without the permission of Lord Abbett.

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