Retirement accounts: Are they probated?

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2022 | Estate Planning, Trust And Probate Litigation

Probate is a court procedure that proves the authenticity of a will or other legal document and is typically used for high-value estates. Laws in community property states such as California are specific about including a spouse, and failure to do so can necessitate probate.

If your retirement account isn’t correctly set up, it may need to go through probate.

How long does probate take?

The size of the estate will have a significant bearing on the length of probate. Probate may be unnecessary if all retirement account documents are correctly planned and executed. However, if the executor needs to locate beneficiaries because the document information was out of date or there are other factors, then probate can take longer.

Do retirement accounts go through probate?

When they are correctly established, then retirement accounts may be able to bypass the probate procedure. Several issues can cause retirement accounts to need probating, and those should be discussed with your financial planner.

Some issues that can precipitate probate include:

  • Omitting spouses name
  • Incorrect beneficiaries
  • Out-of-date information on beneficiaries
  • Deceased beneficiaries

This list isn’t all-inclusive, and the best way to ensure your retirement account doesn’t need probate is to use a professional financial planner. Accurately specifying your beneficiaries with the correct information will help your retirement account avoid probate and become part of your estate.

Although it may not be convenient, setting up your retirement accounts to avoid probate is the best way to ensure the correct distribution of it. This is not a project you should attempt without a professional, however. Your responsibility is to ensure you have designated your beneficiaries accurately and you have kept their information current.