Beneficiary designation FAQ

What is a beneficiary?

The beneficiary or beneficiaries you name for your Ameriprise Financial accounts are the people or entities you'd like your assets to go to when you die.

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What is a beneficiary designation?

A beneficiary designation on an Ameriprise Financial account describes how your assets will be distributed upon your death. To be sure your intentions are clear, your beneficiary designation should be clearly written to make sure it is legally binding.

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Is naming or changing a beneficiary designation a taxable event?

No, establishing or changing your beneficiary designation is a non-taxable even.

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Who should I name as my beneficiary?

Deciding who or what you want your beneficiary to be depends on your personal financial situation. Some people designate their children as beneficiaries while others designate a charity or other entity. If you are unsure who you want as your beneficiary and are looking for more direction, consider talking with a tax professional, an attorney or an estate planner.

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I have a Last Will & Testament so why would I need a beneficiary for my Ameriprise Financial® Accounts?

A beneficiary designation on applicable Ameriprise Financial accounts is a substitute to a Last Will and Testament. Naming a beneficiary designation allows you the opportunity to instruct direct distribution and avoid the probate costs associated with a will or your estate. In most cases, not naming a beneficiary means that the proceeds of your accounts will be paid to the estate and be subject to probate costs. In other cases, a surviving spouse may be the default beneficiary. If you are not sure, review your original contract to find out who the default beneficiary is for the kind of ownership and account you have. Otherwise, submit a beneficiary designation to ensure your intentions are met. Consult with an attorney as to the rights that certain people may have in property which takes priority over the rights of named beneficiaries.

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What is a Special Beneficiary Restriction?

Special Beneficiary Restriction (SBR) is a new feature that is available on certain IRA accounts that allows you to manage how and when your non-spouse beneficiary(ies) will be able to access their inheritance.

An SBR limits your non-spouse beneficiary's access to his/her inherited IRA balance until they reach the age you select, up to 50 years old. Your non-spouse beneficiary will be able to withdraw only the applicable Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) amount until the age you grant for permission to allow full access to the funds. RMD amounts are generally based on the single life expectancy of your non-spouse beneficiary.

While an SBR provides more control over the distribution of IRA assets than a traditional beneficiary designation, it does not allow the customization and asset protection that a trust beneficiary does. Be sure to consult with an estate planning professional to make sure an SBR provides the level of control and protection you require.

If you and your advisor determine that an SBR is right for you, follow these steps to put the restriction in place:

  1. Access the IRA Designation of Beneficiary form.
  2. Elect SBR in Part 4 of the IRA Designation of Beneficiary form.
  3. Access the Purchase Instruction Receipt form.
  4. Write "SBR" on the account line of the Purchase Instruction Receipt form.
  5. Submit the two completed forms - form 402200 and form 3247, along with the $165 administration fee. (Make your check payable to Ameriprise Financial and write "SBR" on the memo line.)

More information regarding Special Beneficiary Restriction eligibility and requirements is available on the IRA Designation of Beneficiary form, Part 4. Let your advisor know if you are interested or have more questions.

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How do I name or update a beneficiary?

Naming or changing a beneficiary requires your original signature on the appropriate beneficiary form. To start the process, we recommend that you contact your financial advisor or the Ameriprise Financial Beneficiary Team at 800.862.7919.

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Where can I get a beneficiary form?

For your convenience, beneficiary forms are available online. Choose from the forms below:

Transfer on Death Agreement Form
Use the Transfer on Death Agreement Form to establish or update a beneficiary for non-qualified Brokerage, SPS, Ameriprise ONE® Financial Accounts, Certificate, and Mutual Fund Accounts registered in Individual or Joint Tenancy ownership.

Change of Beneficiary - Life and Annuities
Use the Change of Beneficiary Life and Annuities Form to establish or update a beneficiary for your Life Insurance or Annuity.

Change of Beneficiary - IRAs
Use the Change of Beneficiary - IRAs Form to establish or update a beneficiary for your non-annuity IRA Plans such as your qualified Brokerage, Mutual Fund or Certificate Traditional, Roth, Rollover, SEP, or Inherited IRA Plan.

Purchase Instruction Receipt
Use the Purchase Instruction Receipt form when you elect a Special Beneficiary Restriction on your Change of Beneficiary IRA form.

Note: All forms are available in PDF format. If you need Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free.

Print out and complete your form. Remember to keep a copy for your file at home, and give a copy to your advisor.

Mail the original form, signed and dated, to the address below to validate your authorization of beneficiary designation:

Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
70100 Ameriprise Financial Center
Minneapolis, MN 55474

Your Ameriprise financial advisor is also happy to meet with you to review the beneficiary form with you.

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Can I name or update my beneficiary over the telephone?

Since a beneficiary designation acts as a substitute for a Will, your instructions are required in writing with your original ink signature.

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Can I fax the beneficiary form back to Ameriprise Financial?

New beneficiary designations or changes to existing beneficiary designations may be submitted to Ameriprise Financial by mail or fax to 866-610-6126.

Ameriprise Financial Services Inc
70100 Ameriprise Financial Center
Minneapolis MN 55474

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Do I have to get the beneficiary designation notarized?

Unless specifically requested, you do not need to get the beneficiary form notarized.

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How do I fill out the beneficiary form?

Once you decide who you want your beneficiary to be, do the following:

  • Clearly type or print the first and last name of the owner(s) in the first section that asks for the name.
  • If there is a Client ID line, fill in your Client ID.
  • If there is an Account number line, fill in your Account number.
  • Provide the information requested on the form.
  • Select the beneficiary you wish to designate.
  • Sign and date the form.

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How do I submit my beneficiary designation?

Make a copy to keep in your records.
Mail the original form with your ink signature to:

Ameriprise Financial Services Inc
70100 Ameriprise Financial Center
Minneapolis MN 55474

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How long does it take to confirm a beneficiary designation?

Typically, your beneficiary designation will be reviewed and acknowledged within three business days. You will receive your beneficiary confirmation letter within two to four weeks of the nearest Tuesday to date. Note: Missing requirements or unclear designations may delay your confirmation.

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How will I know when the beneficiary is updated?

Your updated beneficiary information will be displayed in the secure site on ameriprise.com. When a beneficiary designation is updated to your account at Ameriprise Financial, a confirmation letter is also sent to your mailing address on record.

To view your beneficiary information, log in to the secure site on ameriprise.com. From the My Accounts page, choose the account you want to check and then select the Beneficiaries tab for that account. You can also select the "View Beneficiaries for All Accounts" button to view a consolidated list.

When you visit your Ameriprise financial advisor, your advisor can also access and review your beneficiary designation if you have questions.

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Does my spouse have to sign the form?

Yes, if you have a living spouse, are married and live in one of the Community Property States (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin) and if you are not naming your spouse as 100% sole primary beneficiary, your spouse needs to sign and date the beneficiary request in the Consent of Spouse Section of the form.

If you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin and you have named your spouse as 100% Primary Beneficiary directly by name, your spouse does not need to sign the "Consent of Spouse" signature section. Note: If you are naming a Trust 100% Primary and your spouse is the trustee, your spouse does need to sign.

If you do not live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin; regardless of what your beneficiary is, you do not need to have your spouse sign the "Consent of Spouse" signature section.

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Can I name children who are minors as my beneficiaries?

Yes, you can name minor children as your beneficiaries. In the event the children are still minors at the time of settlement, a court would decide who the appropriate custodian should be.

You can appoint an adult custodian ahead of time using the "Minor Beneficiaries" UTMA (Uniform Transfers To Minors Act) section (Part 3) of the Ameriprise Financial beneficiary forms. This section allows you to choose who you want to serve as custodian.

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I'm not married and don't have kids, what do I do?

You can name any person, people or entity you wish as a beneficiary. Some people name entities such as a non-profit organization or a trust. Use the "Other" or "Text" Option of your beneficiary form to make the designation.

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Is there a way to control or limit access to inherited IRA assets for beneficiaries who are not financially savvy?

Issues of control are typically addressed by working with an attorney to create a trust that will be named as a beneficiary on your accounts and provide a distribution oversight program. A trust allows a high level of customization and discretion in controlling your assets.

For IRA assets that require only a basic level of control, Ameriprise Financial offers a Special Beneficiary Restriction that allows you to limit distributions to your non-spouse beneficiaries without the cost or complexity of a trust. See Special Beneficiary Restriction.

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How do I name a Trust as my beneficiary?

Please provide the full name of your trust and when it was dated on the beneficiary form you submit. The names of trustees will be confirmed at claim time. The Trust document itself is not required when you are naming a trust as your beneficiary. The Trust document will be requested at claim time.

Remember to retain a complete, locatable copy of your Trust and any of its amendments since your trustee will be required to submit the pages of the trust that identify the name, date, named trustee(s), named successor trustee(s) and the signature page of the trust. This will ensure your settlement is completed in a timely manner.

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Can I name a Trust as the beneficiary on my IRA Plan?

Yes, you can name a trust on your IRA Plan held at Ameriprise Financial. Upon the death of an IRA owner who has named a trust as beneficiary of the IRA, the IRA will be moved to Trust Beneficial ownership. The Beneficial IRA will be in the name of the trust and the tax reporting will be to the trust. Naming a trust as a beneficiary to an IRA may limit the ability of your heirs to continue to defer income taxation on these assets. You should consult with your tax advisor or an estate planning attorney before naming a trust as the beneficiary for your IRA.

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I am not naming a Trust, so I don't know what to write on the beneficiary form where it says trust name and date are required.

If you are not naming a Trust as your beneficiary, the trust name and date section is not required since it is not applicable. Trust name and date is only required information if you are actually naming a Trust as your beneficiary.

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What do the different types of beneficiary designations, like "Living Lawful Children With Rights of Survivorship Per Stirpes" mean?

There are several types of beneficiary designations. Following are definitions of the most common:

  • Spouse, if Living, if not, Living Lawful Children with Rights of Survivorship — With this designation, a person's spouse is the beneficiary. If the spouse is deceased, the children legally born to or legally adopted (living lawful) by the owner will share equally in the proceeds. If any of the children are deceased, the proceeds are divided equally among the surviving children.
  • Spouse, if Living, if not, Children Per Stirpes — Per Stirpes is a Latin phrase meaning, "per branch." It is incorporated into Last Will and Testaments and estate planning as an instruction to pay an equal share of an estate to each "branch" of the testator's family. With this designation, a person's spouse is the beneficiary. If the spouse is deceased, the owner's living lawful children will share equally in the proceeds. If one of the owner's children is deceased, that child's living legal children receive his or her portion of the proceeds.
  • Living Lawful Children, Equally with Rights of Survivorship — With this designation, the owner's living lawful children are the beneficiaries. If any of the children have died, those shares are divided equally among the surviving children.
  • Living Lawful Children with Rights of Survivorship Per Stirpes — Per Stirpes is a Latin phrase meaning, "per branch." It is incorporated into Last Will and Testaments and estate planning as an instruction to pay an equal share of an estate to each "branch" of the testator's family. This designation is an instruction to pay the children legally born to or legally adopted by the owner equally; provided however, that if a child of the owner has died before the owner, the share which the child would have received if he or she survived the owner will be paid to his or her legally born to or legally adopted by, children of that deceased child, per stirpes. Stepchildren and foster children are not included in this definition.

    If you have stepchildren, foster children, or are unsure if using this terminology will accomplish your future settlement objective, you may consider naming the specific individuals by name and relationships instead of choosing pre-defined options on the form. This will help clarify who you specifically want to receive beneficiary proceeds at claim time.

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How do I name my stepchildren & foster children as my beneficiary?

If you want to name your stepchildren or foster children, avoid using the class designation "living lawful children" or "per stirpes" since using this terminology will not include stepchildren, foster children or any children not legally adopted.

To ensure correct payment to stepchildren, foster children or children you have not legally adopted, use the "Other" or "Text" section of the beneficiary form and name each child by name. Provide first and last names, relationship (who it is) and the percentage or fraction of the proceeds you wish to designate.

For example:
Primary Beneficiary: 100%, Jane Doe, stepdaughter

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What is the difference between a Primary and Secondary Beneficiary?

The Primary Beneficiary is the first person or entity you want to receive the proceeds of your accounts. There can be more than one primary beneficiary.

For example:
Primary Beneficiary: 50% to John Doe, son and 50% to Jane Doe, daughter.

The secondary beneficiary is the second person or entity you want to receive the proceeds of your accounts should the primary be deceased or not meet specific serviceable qualifications you have instructed. There can be more than one secondary beneficiary just as the example above appears.

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What is a Contingent Beneficiary?

A contingent beneficiary is another term for a secondary beneficiary as described above.

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What is a Tertiary Beneficiary?

A tertiary beneficiary is another term for a third beneficiary who would be paid as default in the event the primary and secondary beneficiaries have died or do not qualify per specific instructions written.

For example:
Primary Beneficiary: 100%, Jane Doe, wife
Secondary Beneficiary: 100%, Jack Doe, son
Tertiary Beneficiary: 100%, Jamie Doe, daughter

If Jane is living, she will receive 100%.

If Jane is deceased, Jack will receive 100%.
If Jane and Jack are deceased, Jamie will receive 100%
If all 3 are living at claim time, only Jane receives the beneficiary money since she was the only person named Primary.

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Can I add instructions in case my beneficiary has died before the payment is made?

A helpful default condition is the instruction, "If living, if not, then…"

An example of this kind of beneficiary designation would be:
Primary Beneficiary:
Jane Doe, stepdaughter, 50% if living, if not, then her 50% to Jack Doe, stepgrandson.
John Doe, son-in-Law, 50% if living, if not, then his 50% to Jane Doe, stepdaughter.

If you are unsure of your beneficiary or if you have questions, review your beneficiary designation with your Ameriprise financial advisor, a Legal or Tax Professional or an Estate Planner.

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I have a long designation and need more room on the form; what should I do?

Complete the form requirements as usual but Check the Option Circle "F" called "Text Other" on your beneficiary form and write, "See Attached."

Sign and date the Beneficiary Form in the signature sections as applicable.

On the attachment you are writing your beneficiary on, sign, date and identify the account numbers that match the account numbers you wrote on the beneficiary form to ensure the beneficiary form and the attachment can be identified as corresponding together as one instruction.

If this is an attachment to an IRA Plan Beneficiary Form #3993, please include on the attachment the same IRA Plan Type you selected on the form, instead of account numbers. For example "Roth," "Traditional" or "Roth and Traditional." Sign and date the attachment.

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The beneficiary I named has died; do I need to name a new beneficiary?

Since a death certificate of the deceased beneficiary would be required at claim time it is best to update your beneficiary designation if one of your pre-existing named beneficiaries has died. Your Ameriprise financial advisor can meet with you to fill out a new form or you can access a new beneficiary form online.

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I own a joint account with someone; do we even need to name a beneficiary and, if so, how do we do it?

In the event, of one owner's death on a Joint With Rights of Survivorship account, the proceeds pass to the remaining owner. In the event of the death of both owners, the proceeds pass to any named beneficiaries. If no beneficiary is named, in this scenario, the beneficiary in most cases will be the estate of the last surviving owner. If you do want a specific person or entity to be paid in the event both owners have died, a beneficiary can be named.

* This scenario is in the context of non-qualified mutual funds, certificates, brokerage or SPS / Ameriprise ONE Financial Accounts when a 3214 TOD POD form is submitted. Review your contract details if you have questions about a jointly owned annuity product.

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How often should I review my beneficiary designations?

Life events such as marriage, birth of a child, starting your own business, a divorce or a death, are some examples of reasons to review your beneficiary designation and see if your objective has changed. Your designation should be reviewed periodically and shared with anyone assisting you in estate planning to insure that it coordinates with your will and/or trust.

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