Retirement accounts in Oregon may be subject to probate if you don’t name a beneficiary to the account. It may be a good idea to name an alternate beneficiary in the event that your primary beneficiary dies or is, otherwise, unable to receive funds from a 401(k), 403(b) or similar account.
Your spouse may have a legal right to be a beneficiary
In almost all states, your spouse is required to be the beneficiary to a 401(k) unless he or she gives you permission to transfer the account to someone else. If you move to a community property state, your spouse will likely receive half of any contributions that you make to an account during your working years.
Don’t name your estate or a minor as a beneficiary
Generally speaking, a retirement account is held outside of your estate, which means that it isn’t subject to probate. It also means that creditors can’t claim that money in an effort to recoup any money that they are owed. However, if you make your estate the beneficiary of such an account, you lose that protection.
Minors are not allowed to inherit assets on their own. Therefore, if you plan to transfer your IRA or 401(k) to a minor child or grandchild, make sure to name an adult who will manage it on his or her behalf.
Ideally, you will appoint multiple beneficiaries to assets that can pass outside of your estate. Bypassing the probate process may make it faster and easier to transfer property to a person or organization in a timely manner. It is, generally, a good idea to review beneficiary designations after they are made. This can help to ensure that the designation is still appropriate years or decades after it was first made.