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IRA and Qualified Retirement Plan Beneficiary Designations: Techniques for Estate Planners to Avoid Costly Errors

Identifying, Avoiding, and Correcting Designation Problems With Tax and Non-Tax Consequences

Note: CPE credit is not offered on this program

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide estate planning counsel and tax advisers with guidance on resolving beneficiary designation problems that plague IRAs and qualified plans held in trust. The panel will offer various options and approaches to mitigate resulting damage to correct trust structures and avoid common tax pitfalls with beneficiary designations.


An IRA or qualified plan is often a family's most significant investment. Naming an incorrect beneficiary or failing to name one results in excess income and estate taxes. A retirement plan that defaults to the estate is subject to debts, taxes and, creditor claims in addition to accelerated income tax.

A client can name family members, a trust, a charity, or a combination of individuals, trusts, or charities as beneficiaries. IRS rules on trusts as designated beneficiaries are complex and strict. Certain types of trusts are eligible for required minimum distribution based on a new life expectancy.

Counsel and tax advisers must also give careful attention to the tax consequences of beneficiary designations. Because the rules are complicated and full of potential tax traps, counsel must focus on tax implications when reviewing clients' IRA beneficiary designations during planning.

Listen as our authoritative panel of practitioners guides you through the various problems that arise with incorrect or missing beneficiary designations, the potential adverse tax consequences, and other estate planning risks. The panel will outline best practices for proactively correcting problems or mitigating the resulting damage if discovered too late.



  1. Impact of the Retirement Equity Act of 1984 on plan beneficiary designations
  2. Deadlines after death to correct designations
  3. Spousal IRA concerns
  4. Identification of problems with beneficiary designations
  5. Best practices for correcting beneficiary designation problems


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Which federal and state laws impact IRA and qualified retirement plan beneficiary designations?
  • What common types of beneficiary problems can arise with incorrect or unintended beneficiary designations?
  • What are best practices for avoiding and fixing beneficiary designation problems?


Daniels, Daniel
Daniel L. Daniels

Wiggin and Dana

Mr. Daniels focuses his practice representing business owners, private equity and hedge fund founders, family...  |  Read More

Lynch, Kristen
Kristen M. Lynch

Lubell Rosen

Ms. Lynch represents clients in matters related to probates, guardianships, estate planning, asset protection,...  |  Read More

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