Can being named a beneficiary of an IRA hinder grandkids from receiving money left to them in a will?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Dduck77 asked...

Can being named a beneficiary of an IRA hinder grandchildren from receiving money left to them in a Will? My Grandmother recently passed away. There are 4 grandchildren that were each left a sum of money in the Will. The Will is in probate so the grandkids haven’t received their money from the estate. This past Tuesday the grandkids found out they were named as beneficiary of my grandmothers IRA. Now the executors of the Will are saying the grandkids are not owed anything from the Will since they are to receive money as the beneficiary on the IRA. Can being named a beneficiary on an IRA stop them from getting the money left to them in the Will?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

In the usual course of things, one has nothing to do with the other.

If your grandmother named the grandchildren as beneficiaries of her IRA, it is usually in a "pay on death" designation. That means you kids get to take the IRA proceeds directly at her death; they do not pass through probate, but are separate and apart from that.

And normally, you would also be able to take the money you were left in a straightforward bequest in her will. So it is likely that the executors are confused or misinformed.

There is some remote offchance, however, that the will contains some tricky wording that would provide for distributing your grandmother's property in a particular way.

See for yourself. If the executors have not given you a copy of the will"”they are not usually required by law to do so, but many do just to keep the distribution process friendly"”then get a copy of it and look for yourselves. The probate court where the will was filed is the place to ask. There may be a slight cost for getting a copy, but it will be well worth it for your own peace of mind.