A:

It depends.

Generally speaking, the designation of beneficiary form dictates who receives the assets from the individual retirement account (IRA). Therefore, no one else is entitled to receive any share of the IRA unless the named beneficiaries choose to disclaim their portions. However, if the IRA contributor resides in a community property state and the spouse did not approve the designation of beneficiary, he or she may be entitled to a portion of the IRA. Under the laws of these states, the spouse must be the primary designated beneficiary, unless he or she consents to another party being the primary designated beneficiary. The community and marital property states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

If the contributor resides in one of these states, you'll need to check with the custodian to determine whether the proper approval was obtained from you (as the contributor's spouse). If the proper approval was obtained or if the contributor did not reside in one of these states, then the designated beneficiaries will be able to take possession of your share of the IRA.

Note that even if the contributor resides in a community property state, the IRA (or a portion of it) may still not be subject to the community property laws if the balance was accrued before the person was married. To be sure, check with a local attorney who specializes in estate planning or tax law.

(For more on IRA beneficiary designations, see Update Your Beneficiariesand Problematic Beneficiary Designations - Parts 1 and 2.)

This question was answered by Denise Appleby
(Contact Denise)

RELATED FAQS
  1. Am I losing the right to collect spousal Social Security benefits before I collect ...

    The short answer is yes, if you haven't reached age 62 by December 31, 2015. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 disrupted ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the maximum I can receive from my Social Security retirement benefit?

    The maximum monthly Social Security benefit payment for a person retiring in 2016 at full retirement age is $2,639. However, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I file taxes for income from foreign sources?

    If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, your income (except for amounts exempt under federal law), including that which ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are target-date retirement funds good investments?

    The main benefit of target-date retirement funds is convenience. If you really don't want to bother with your retirement ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Where else can I save for retirement after I max out my Roth IRA?

    With uncertainty about the sustainability of Social Security benefits for future retirees, a lot of responsibility for saving ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Will quitting your job hurt your 401(k)?

    Quitting a job doesn't have to impact a 401(k) balance negatively. In fact, it may actually help in the long run. When leaving ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 PIMCO Funds for Retirement Diversification in 2016

    Explore analyses of the top three PIMCO funds for 2016 and learn how these funds can be used to create a diversified retirement portfolio.
  2. Retirement

    How Much Should You Have In Your 401(k) To Retire?

    Determining how much money should be in your 401(k) when you retire depends on several variables, many of which are uncertain.
  3. Estate Planning

    Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die

    If you don’t plan your estate, your surviving family may have to deal with disputes and probate that were avoidable.
  4. Retirement

    Retiring in Thailand: The Pros & Cons

    It's a lovely land, but before relocating, get the skinny on this Southeast Asian kingdom.
  5. Investing

    How To Make Sure Your Healthcare Costs Do Not Ruin Your Retirement

    The best proactive plan of action for a stable retirement is to understand medical costs, plan ahead, invest properly, and consider supplemental insurance.
  6. Retirement

    Is Retiring in France Safe Today?

    After a series of deadly terrorist incidents, some may be asking themselves this question.
  7. Your Practice

    Advisors: $240B in Fees Up for Grabs by 2030

    Advisors have an opportunity to win generational assets over the next 15 years. Here are some tips on how to cater to different demographics.
  8. Investing

    3 Small Steps to Maximize Your Investing Goals

    Instead of starting the New Year with ambitious resolutions, why not taking smaller manageable steps that can have a real impact.
  9. Investing

    7 Creative Ways to Save for an Early Retirement

    Take note of these out of the box steps you can take towards securing yourself an earlier, more comfortable retirement.
  10. Your Clients

    Tips for Making Your Nest Egg Last Longer

    If you’re trying to figure out how to make your hard-earned nest egg last, there’s one piece of advice that stands above the rest.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Fiduciary

    A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person, ...
  2. Sequence Risk

    The risk of receiving lower or negative returns early in a period ...
  3. Backdoor Roth IRA

    A method that taxpayers can use to place retirement savings in ...
  4. Taxes

    An involuntary fee levied on corporations or individuals that ...
  5. Letter of Intent - LOI

    A document outlining the terms of an agreement before it is finalized. ...
  6. Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract

    A Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) is a deferred annuity ...
Trading Center