Know what you have in retirement holdings and where you have it.

Know what you have in retirement holdings and where you have it.

To those of you who are the original or inheritor-owners of an IRA (individual retirement account) or other form of retirement plan, or various accounts (very common). You will require this information. Know as much as you can about your retirement accounts so that nothing slips through the cracks. You should maintain a checklist so that you can track the growth of your retirement funds. Having a checklist provides you with a comprehensive overview of all of your retirement assets without requiring you to go back and examine the specifics of each account. 

If you have several retirement accounts, for instance, you may occasionally forget about one of them (it happens!). Some people have accounts from previous employer's that they have totally forgotten about. Or they have accounts with their current employer that they haven't checked the performance of. In order to identify and carry out your desires for each account after you pass away, your financial adviser, your family lawyer and accountant, your spouse, and your children (if they are your beneficiaries) will need the information you provide. If your spouse or domestic partner owns an IRA or other retirement account, they should also know each account they originally owned or inherited.

Original account owner: The most popular retirement accounts: 401(k), 403(b), Roth IRA, traditional SEPIRA, and SIMPLE IRA. Write down every retirement account you own or have transferred to your own name from a spouse (it excludes accounts you have inherited from someone else including your spouse if you remain a beneficiary of the account). The regulations governing these accounts can vary greatly, and if you are not fully conversant with the law, you or your heirs may be subject to fines when it comes time to remove money from them.

Inherited account owner: You now have these accounts as a result of the deceased person's passing. This is significant because even beneficiaries of retirement accounts effectively become account owners if they inherit them. As a result, inheritors of retirement accounts are subject to tighter documentation requirements, planning possibilities, and tax laws than original account owners. You can avoid difficulties by using this checklist.

Each person has a unique portfolio. The more accounts you have, the more research you will need to conduct over the phone and in person to compile data on each one. However, after you've completed this, changing your account information continually should take you no more than a few minutes, and you'll always feel in complete control and orderly.

Here is what you should know about your retirement accounts when making your checklist: 


  • Type of Account: The kind of retirement plan that the funds are in-e.g., IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k). 
  • Institution or Company: The name of the custodian (such as a bank or brokerage firm) or the employer holding the account. 
  • Account #: The identifying number the custodian has assigned to the account 
  • Balance: The total amount in the account as of your last statement. 
  • Basis: The amount of after-tax funds in the retirement account according to your company plan statement or the Form 8606 filed with your tax return 
  •  Primary Beneficiary: The name of the key beneficiary-eg., a spouse-listed on your beneficiary form for this account 
  •  Contingent Beneficiary: The name(s) of your second, third, fourth or however many secondary beneficiaries as listed on your beneficiary form. 
  • Date: When you filled out the information sheet.

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