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When I pass will my child receive my 401k?

Aug 29, 2012 by johnnie from Chicago, IL in  |  Flag
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3 votes

If you leave your child as your beneficiary, then yes for certain. Check with the HR Department of your employer to view your current beneficiaries and update them if necessary. You may also be able to do this online with your plan provider.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Aug 29, 2012 from Boston, MA

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If you are currently married, the spouse will receive the proceeds, unless they have signed a spousal consent form giving up their entitled benefit.

I would like to encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney and accountant to make sure that your estate is directed to the beneficiaries of your intentions. They will encourage you to look at all beneficiary forms, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, and update provisions in your will.

David G Niggel


1 Comment   |  Flag   |  Sep 05, 2012 from Lititz, PA
Tony Toska JSM, L.L.M

The right answer here is David Niggel. If you are married then doesn't matter who you assign as the beneficaries, your wife/husband will have superseeding interest for your 401k proceeds. Unless your wife/husband has signed a waiver for the proceeds. Good luck!

Flag |  Jan 27, 2016

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The only thing I would add, is make sure if you son is a minor right now, that you create a will where you name a right guardian who will act on his behalf until he is the age of majority. Best of Luck Sincerely Michael

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 08, 2013 from Farmington, CT

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Andy Tilp, CFP® Level 16

Your question raises a more general issue about the importance of periodically reviewing and, if needed, updating your beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts.

There are cases where, because a beneficiary had not been updated, a long forgotten ex-girl or ex-boy friend receives proceeds from life insurance and the spouse of many decades receives nothing.

There was even a recent case on this subject that went all the way to US Supreme Court. (See http://bit.ly/1bh4aHR) All the expense and years of fighting in the courts could have been prevented with a quick correction of the beneficiary designation.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 08, 2013 from Sherwood, OR

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Phil A. Matheson Level 11

Please review your beneficiary form and make sure it reflects your exact wishes then have a copy of the beneficiary form in your personal possessions and in the possession of the person taking care of your estate should something happen to you.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 16, 2014 from Costa Mesa, CA

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Previous commenters have covered the subject well. I suggest that you get a copy of my book on the practical aspects of passing your estate to your heris. It's called BEFORE I GO and you can read the first three chapters by going to our website. http://www.korvingco.com/

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 17, 2014 from Suffolk, VA

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Tunc Tanin Level 10

I would like add that sometimes leaving a large 401k balance like 200,000K to 17 year old child could have unintended consequences. If the child receives the payment as lump sum, the child would have no chance of receiving need based financial aid. While you can do a 5 year stretch payment, even at 40,000 a year would make the child ineligible for most need based financial aid. Setting up a trust before hand can avoid this problem.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Sep 22, 2014 from Somerville, MA

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