Does a listed beneficiary of an IRA take precedence over the beneficiaries of a Will?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does a listed beneficiary of an IRA take precedence over the beneficiaries of a Will?

My mother recently passed. She had an IRA account. My stepfather says it is a 401k and by law it goes to him. My mother had a Will that stipulates her husband and she entered into a prenuptial agreement and her husband has waived the right to inherit from her. Does this go to him or to her children?

Asked on August 23, 2016 under Estate Planning, Nebraska


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Some assets pass outside of an estate. This means that the listed beneficiary takes the asset over outright; no probate is required. And the proceeds of a 401k are such an asset. Accordingly, since your stepfather  is named on the 401k, it goes to him; the benficiaries of your mother's estate can make no claim on it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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