Retirement Planning: So, bottom line, what difference is it to my beneficiary if he, she or it is classified as a Designated Beneficiary, a Non-Designated Beneficiary or my spouse?

The major difference is the length of continued income tax deferral available to the beneficiary after your death.

As discussed in the previous answers, there is a maximum period of time after your death over which your beneficiary must withdraw all remaining funds. The longer the period of time, the more potential there is for continued income tax deferral and faster growth.

Excerpt from The Complete Guide to Estate and Financial Planning in Turbulent Times (Collaborative Press, 2011) - Walt Dallas, Contributing Author