You have a 401(k) that you’ve built up for years. If you pass away, you want to know that it will go to the right person.
Be careful about what you do, and make sure you update your beneficiary designation when need be. If you name someone as a beneficiary and pass away, it will be very difficult for anyone to challenge that decision if you haven’t updated the beneficiary.
Why should you review your 401(k) beneficiary designation?
Depending on how your life has changed, you may want to go back and check who you have down as a beneficiary. Was it an ex-spouse or a friend that you’ve fallen out of touch with? If you don’t want that person to receive your 401(k) distributions, then you’ll want to update that beneficiary as soon as possible.
Remember that you can name a beneficiary as well as a contingent beneficiary. The contingent beneficiary receives the assets if the primary beneficiary has already passed away or passes on the assets for any reason.
You should also be aware that your beneficiary designation on the 401(k) will override your will. Even if you state who you want to have receive it there, it will be hard to challenge what you actually wrote down in the beneficiary designation for the 401(k) account.
You don’t have to review your 401(k) designation often, but if you know that you’ve gone through a major life change and that you want to disinherit someone, make time to do so as soon as you can, so you don’t risk passing those assets on to the wrong person.