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Re: Wills and Beneficiaries of IRAs.

Miami, FL |

I was looking over my Will which was done 10 years ago and the beneficiaries are different from the ones I currently have on my IRAs and IRA Annuities. There are no specific amounts stated in the Will for anyone, but that whatever remains would be divided among 4 beneficiaries.
Should my Will be now brought up to date to reflect these new beneficiaries?
Also, does your personal jewelry, clothing, etc. just become part of the estate?

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Attorney answers 6

Best Answer

As the other attorneys have said, the IRAs and other accounts were you can specify the pay on death beneficiaries are not affected by your will. They pass outside of probate. All your other property is part of your probate estate, including your jewelry and person items. Usually a will specifies who these personal items go to. If the beneficiaries in you will are not the same people you currently wish your property to go to, then you should update your will.

This does not create an attorney/client relationship. This does not constitue legal advice. It is limited to facts of the question. You should consult an attorney before making any decisions based on this answer.


The beneficiaries for your IRAs and annuities take outside of probate and thus, these assets are not affected or controlled by the terms of your Will. If your objectives have changed since you signed your Will, however, you should review your estate plan with your attorney to make sure it still does what you want it to. You should also consider updating your power of attorney forms, as well, because I believe Florida's law has changed regarding these forms, in recent years.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


Attorney Frederick is correct. Think of it this way:

a) your will controls solely-owned assets without a beneficiary (e.g., probate assets);
b) IRA and IRA annuities have named beneficiaries (e.g., non-probate assets unless the estate is named as the beneficiary).

Individuals should coordinate their probate assets and their non-probate assets when making decisions relating to the distribution of both. Thus, it is probably advisable for you to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney to walk through your current will and beneficiary designations to make sure that they properly reflect your current wishes. Good luck to you.

This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.

Howard C Stross

Howard C Stross


Attorneys Frederick and Pankowski provide solid advice for you to follow. Estate planning, along with incapacity planning, is about achieving your objectives when you pass away or become mentally incapacitated. There are many "tools" to attain your objectives. While your inquiry deals with death planning, please remember to talk with your attorney about incapacity planning. If you are unable to take care of yourself and your property, who will help you? If you do not select some one to help you and include that person's name in a durable power of attorney and a health care surrogate designation that are drafted to meet your needs and wants, a court appointed guardian may result. For many persons (but not necessarily all), the avoidance of a formal guardianship is an appropriate objective.


The beneficiaries on your retirement account can be different than your instructions in the will and trust.
The choice is totally yours.
You should meet with an estate planning attorney and come up with a solid plan.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


It's a good idea to update your documents, if the beneficiaries have changed. Dealing with IRAs is a little bit tricky; and you need to coordinate your IRA/annuity beneficiary designations with your Will/Trust beneficiaries because Wills and Trusts have no effect on IRA/annuity payouts after your death. Generally, you wouldn't want your estate or a trust to be the beneficiary of your IRA/annuity funds. There are some simple, yet important, steps to take to maximize your estate planning efficiency.

Do you know the consequences of your legal situation on your Financial & Estate Plan? Dennis Phillips is an attorney and financial planner based in South Florida; and he is the principal of 411 Financial, 411 LegalDox, and 411 FlaLaw which provide investment and insurance products and services nationwide, and legal products and services in Florida. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Brokers International Financial Services, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC, Panora, Iowa, Brokers International Financial Services, LLC is not affiliated with 411 Financial, 411 LegalDox, or 411 FlaLaw. Disclaimer: The response above is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, would significantly alter the above response.


All of you property for which there is no beneficiary designation or other probate substitute, such as a trust, is part of your probate estate and subject to distribution pursuant to you Will.

Your IRA and IRA Annuities pass pursuant to the beneficiaries designation on the IRA account. Your Will does not control those.

To the extent you are contemplating equal distributions including the IRA proceeds, you should coordinate your Will and the beneficiary designations.

You would be wise to contact an estate planning attorney to assist you.

The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.