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Advisor Insights

7 Ways to Fix Wrong or Missing Beneficiary Designations

Contributor Natalie Choate explains what to do when a decedent names the wrong (or no) beneficiary on retirement accounts.

John Doe has died, leaving a substantial retirement account. Unfortunately, he never named a beneficiary for the account (or he named the “wrong” beneficiary). You are advising his survivors--his family, executor, and/or trustee. What are their options for fixing a defective (or missing) beneficiary designation?

Here’s a menu of seven cleanup options for these situations. Depending on exactly what the problem is, the survivors may be able to use one (or two, or none) of these to fix it.