I went to Ed Slott's 2 Day IRA Workshop a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco. We spent 16 hours over 2 days reviewing every page of a 400 page manual. It talked about the SECURE Act, 25 IRA rules you must know, Roth IRA strategies, Roth IRA conversions, rollovers, etc. etc. I spoke to a guy at dinner who just got his CFA designation and works at Goldman Sachs. He commented that he didn't realize there was any way you could spend that much time studying just IRAs. I felt like we had just scratched the surface.
One thing that Ed and his team kept bringing up was the importance of reviewing the beneficiary designation on things like IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401k plans and of course, life insurance. There were too many cases where people had a beneficiary designation, then had some kind of change in life like a marriage or divorce and never changed their beneficiary. When that person died, the person who was expecting to be the beneficiary, like a spouse, was in for a terrible surprise. There was a newspaper article about a guy who was married to his wife for 37 years. The wife had a pension but never changed the beneficiary after she got married. After the wife died, the husband was expecting to be the beneficiary of her pension, which was worth over $1,000,000. But NO!! Her sister was the named beneficiary and received the entire proceeds. The husband went to court, but lost.
This type of thing is easy to fix prior to death and exceedingly difficult after the fact. Make sure you review your beneficiary designations. It's pretty common to have someone like your mom or your sister as the beneficiary when you are single. Just because you got married doesn't mean the beneficiary changed unless you filled out the proper paperwork. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, this is probably the one where mistakes are seen most often. I know this sounds stupid but I bet they talked about this at least 10 times over the two days.
If you have any questions about these issues feel free to reach out to me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach to me through my website, www.kevinbrownfinancialadvisor.com. Thanks, KB