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American Century Investments® understands the importance of estate planning as part of your financial plan. Learn key concepts and strategies, as well as what your options are when you receive an inheritance.
Estate planning is an effective way for you to plan how your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Common planning strategies include wills, trusts, and transfer on death (TOD) registrations.
A legal declaration that describes how you want the assets that are titled in your name to be distributed after your death.
A fiduciary agreement in which one party, the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold property or assets for a third party, the beneficiary.
Transfer on Death allows an account owner to transfer his or her assets to a designated beneficiary(ies) upon the account owner's death without the need for probate.
Many people postpone the process of writing a will for a variety of reasons. However, you will likely find that completing your estate planning will provide you with peace of mind. You may want to consider meeting with an estate planner or attorney due to the complexities of estate planning laws.
Selecting beneficiaries, for example, ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. By adding a beneficiary designation to the accounts you own with American Century, you can simplify the asset transfer process for your heirs.
You and loved ones can rely on our Estate Transfer team to carry out your estate plan.
We can help you implement your estate plan, but American Century does not provide estate planning services or tax advice. Please contact an estate planner, attorney, or tax adviser for advice regarding your situation.
Most non-retirement accounts do not have named beneficiaries and may not need them depending on the estate planning choices you make. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. This is why it is important for you to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine what is best for you.
When you establish a retirement account, you should designate a beneficiary who will receive the assets when you pass away.
Trying to decide if you should name a person (your spouse, a relative or friend) or your trust as beneficiary? The SECURE Act, which passed in December 2019, changed the amount of time certain beneficiaries have to withdraw inherited assets. While the Act did not change rules for spouse beneficiaries, many non-spouse beneficiaries are limited to a maximum of 10 years from the date of death when it comes to withdrawing inherited assets. Talk with your estate planner if you have questions about the tax benefit or harm of naming a specific individual or entity as your beneficiary.
For more information about the distribution options that will be available to your beneficiaries, please review our Distribution Options for IRA Beneficiaries booklet .
You can change your beneficiaries whenever you want in most cases, allowing your instructions to evolve as your assets and relationships change.
The type of accounts owned will determine the documentation that will be needed to transfer assets to the heirs. Probate is the process of settling the estate according to the decedent's will. When an estate is probated, a court reviews the will and documents the authorized individual to act on behalf of the estate.
Generally speaking, any asset that has a valid beneficiary designation will not have to go through probate, including most assets that are placed in trusts. The following table outlines which assets are and are not usually subject to probate in the most common scenarios.
Note for non-retirement accounts: We will default to the date of death valuation when stepping up cost basis for any shares held by the decedent that are transferred due to death. If an alternate valuation date that meets IRS Regulations is required, please contact us or inform us in writing. Any shares acquired after the date of death will retain their original cost basis when transferred, unless they were acquired prior to the alternate valuation date.
* Documentation can vary based on the decedent's state of residence and value of the accounts owned.
You will need to contact the probate division of the court in the county where the decedent lived at the time of their passing.
No. Because of privacy laws, some states issue two different types of death certificates—one that lists the cause of death information and another that does not. American Century Investments will accept a copy of either type of official death certificate.
Once we receive a copy of the decedent's death certificate we will be able to release the value of your beneficial portion of the IRA. For security and privacy purposes we cannot provide information about the number of beneficiaries named or the percentages that were designated.
Learn the basics of what you need to know about estate planning with this mini primer.
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Speak with an Estate Transfer Specialist
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IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: American Century Companies, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide tax advice. Accordingly, any discussion of U.S. tax matters contained herein (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, in connection with the promotion, marketing or recommendation by anyone unaffiliated with American Century Companies, Inc. of any of the matters addressed herein or for the purpose of avoiding U.S. tax-related penalties.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for more detailed information or for advice regarding your individual situation.