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The beneficiary of an account is the person named to benefit from the account after the account holder’s death. Beneficiaries can be named for checking accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), mutual funds, annuities, trusts, wills, and life insurance policies. Naming an account beneficiary may help to simplify the process of having your assets passed down after your death.
Beneficiaries are either named specifically in related documents, or have met the stipulations that make them eligible for specified distribution. Under normal circumstances, money in your bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. is considered part of your estate after death. However, adding an account beneficiary allows you, and your beneficiary, to bypass the estate and probate process. To claim the money, the beneficiary simply has to prove his or her identity and produce a certified copy of the account holder’s death certificate.
In community property states like California, the spouses of married account holders automatically get half the assets upon their spouse’s death. The only exceptions are for assets acquired before the marriage or inherited funds. If you want to leave the assets to a beneficiary other than your spouse, your spouse must consent in writing.Notice: River does not provide investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The information provided is general and illustrative in nature and therefore is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax advice. We encourage you to consult the appropriate tax professional to understand your personal tax circumstances.