Does an IRA Beneficiary Designation Override a Will?

by Rania Combs on April 24, 2013

I recently received a note from a woman whose mother had recently passed away. Her mother’s Will directed that her estate be divided equally among her three children. However, she had an IRA that listed one child as the beneficiary and it did not include the other two. “Does the beneficiary designation triumph over the wishes in the Will,” she asked.

Assets like IRAs are non-probate assets. They pass by beneficiary designation and are not controlled by a Will. The only time a Will would control a non-probate asset is if no beneficiary is designated or the estate is named as the beneficiary. That’s why it’s so important to coordinate non-probate assets with the way your Will disposes of your property.

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