How to Change the Beneficiary on an Existing Roth IRA

Divide your assets among those you love.

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Unless you take steps to name beneficiaries, the policies of the financial institution holding your Roth IRA funds determine who gets the money after your death. You can name two levels of beneficiaries. The primary beneficiary receives the inheritance on your death. If the primary beneficiary is also deceased at that time, the custodian of your retirement account awards the funds to your secondary beneficiaries. You must submit your request in writing -- usually in a form the institution provides -- to make your wish legally binding. You can update your beneficiary designations by going through the proper channels.

Step 1

Contact the account custodian for a change-of-beneficiary form. The Roth IRA custodian is the financial institution with which you have the retirement account. These forms are usually posted online as downloadable PDFs. Do a search of the institution’s website. Make a call if you cannot locate the form.

Step 2

Complete all the blanks on the form that apply to the beneficiary-change request. Fill out the personal information section, which usually asks for your name, Social Security number and type of account you have. Go to the section for change of beneficiary and name your new primary and secondary ones. If you are adding individuals to the current list, repeat the information for the existing beneficiaries and add to it the new names. You need to provide their Social Security numbers, dates of birth and full names. You also have to designate the percentage of your retirement fund you want each to inherit.

Step 3

Sign and date the change-of-beneficiary form and mail it to your Roth IRA custodian. If you do not receive confirmation of the change within four to six weeks, contact the financial institution to verify they processed your request.