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Naming Someone Other Than Spouse as IRA Beneficiary

My first wife passed away two years ago. We had been married nearly 40 years and had four kids, all of whom are grown now. I remarried three months ago and recently realized that I still had my first wife listed as beneficiary on my IRA. I want to change that. I'm sure my current wife would want me to name her beneficiary, but I really want to name my kids as beneficiary instead. Is that legal?

It is permissible to name someone other than (or in addition to) your current spouse as beneficiary of your IRA, but if you live in a state that is a community property state or marital property state, you will need to obtain a signed consent from your current spouse to do so. In fact, some financial institutions require a spousal consent for a non-spouse beneficiary designation regardless of which state the IRA owner is located in, just as a matter of policy. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Washington. Wisconsin is an example of a marital property state.

Published on 7/28/06