Published in the September 15, 2017 edition of the Central Penn Business Journal.
As more and more wealth is housed within retirement accounts, clients must first understand that such accounts are controlled, at death, by beneficiary designation, and not by their Last Will & Testament. This makes a periodic review of one’s beneficiary designations critical. A surviving spouse has the ability to “rollover” a retirement plan of their deceased spouse into their own name, potentially deferring tax. As for a designated non-spouse beneficiary, he or she may direct the plan’s trustee to transfer the funds directly into an “inherited IRA” account, thereby “stretching” distributions over their life expectancy and providing a tremendous income tax advantage. Those with charitable intentions should consider utilizing retirement accounts, both during life and at death, to maximize impact as qualified charities are exempt from income tax. Consult one of our experienced estate planning attorneys to explore such techniques in more detail.