Confusion With Beneficiary Designations On IRA's And Annuities


In meeting with clients and reviewing their estate plans, I have noticed many problems with the beneficiary designations on IRA’s, and annuities. Sometimes I have noticed that beneficiaries have not even been named! Sometimes I have noticed that the percentages for the beneficiaries do not add up to 100%. Other times I have noticed that clients have named a Living Trust as either the primary or contingent beneficiaries of their plans.

Another problem that I encounter with beneficiary designations is that someone has named their “estate” as the beneficiary. I would like to reiterate that “estate” is a technical term. Typically, estate is defined by the beneficiary documents as the “probate estate”. In order to have a probate estate, I have to admit a will in the local probate court and begin the probate process in order to allow the proceeds from the IRA or annuity to be paid to the “estate”.

Due to naming an “estate” as the beneficiary, the IRA or annuity will now have to go through the probate process. This is completely contrary to why most people create an estate plan. Instead of avoiding probate, you are now forced into probate. When someone names the estate as a beneficiary, not only must an estate be opened, but there are also federal and state income tax ramifications that must be addressed which could have been avoided by naming the proper beneficiary.

I recommend that you review your beneficiary designations every five years, or if there is a major life changing event, such as a birth of a child or the death of a spouse.

Our estate planning attorneys offer a FREE Consultation to learn about your specific circumstances, answer your questions and provide you with a recommended action plan for your specific needs.  There is no obligation and no cost.

Office Location

Gregory E. Robinson, P.C.
1422 Elbridge Payne Rd
Suite #170
Chesterfield, MO 63017
TEL: 636-532-9500


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. Neither the Supreme Court of Missouri nor The Missouri Bar reviews or approves certifying organizations or specialist designations.

The information presented in this website by Gregory E. Robinson, P.C. is intended as general information and is not legal advice. You should contact an attorney to learn how the law applies to your specific situation. We welcome your phone calls as well as electronic inquiries.

Use of this web site, communicating through this web site or use of electronic email does not create an attorney-client relationship. Email is not a secure form of communication, please do not send confidential or sensitive information.

The information in this web site is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or current. We make no warranty, expressed or implied, about the accuracy or reliability of the information at this website or at any other website to which this site is linked.

Images on the site include simulated portrayals of lawyers, clients, scenes and events.

The copyrights in all text, images, screens and other materials provided on this Site are owned by Gregory E. Robinson, P.C., and/or by third parties.