How Should I List Beneficiaries on a 401(k)?
Original post by Emory Street of Demand Media
Listing the beneficiaries of your 401k in your will does not necessarily mean they will receive the benefits. Upon your death, your 401k will go to the beneficiaries listed on your plan's designation form, even if you indicate otherwise in your will. To ensure that your beneficiaries are up to date, review your designation form every year or so, as well as each time you update your will.
Request a beneficiary designation form from your 401k plan provider. This form is the same regardless of whether you are just enrolling in a 401k or changing the beneficiaries on an already existing 401k.
Provide all requested information on the form. This typically includes your name, contact information, date of birth and Social Security number.
List your primary beneficiary in the designated space. Provide his full name, date of birth and Social Security number. You may list only one primary beneficiary or several. Most beneficiary designation forms provide a space for percentages. For example, if you wish to divide your 401k equally amongst four primary beneficiaries, write 25 percent across from each of their names.
List your contingent beneficiaries. These beneficiaries will receive your 401k if the primary beneficiary is deceased. Provide the same information for all of your contingent beneficiaries. You may list one person or several people.
Provide additional information if you list a trust as a beneficiary. Write the trust's name, along with the name and address of the trustee. Indicate whether it is a revocable or irrevocable trust. Indicate whether it is a revocable trust that automatically becomes irrevocable upon your death.
Sign the form and date it. Return the form to your plan's administrator. (reference 1 pg 11)
- Beneficiary designation form
- Colorado PERA: Create Your Plan for the Future
- Utah Retirement Systems; Designating Your Beneficiaries; January 2009
- "Smart Money"; Designating Beneficiaries - What You Need to Know; Bill Bischoff; August 2009
About the Author
Emory Street has been a freelancer writer specializing in history and health topics for various websites since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American studies from Skidmore College.