Do life insurance or retirement benefits, including IRA’s, need to go through probate?
That is a complicated question. However, the simple answer is no, they do not necessarily have to go through probate, but it is an estate planning tool, particularly with respect to life insurance in a situation in which you want to establish a complicated estate plan, and in life insurance, beneficiaries are very limited. Therefore you can appoint your life insurance beneficiary to be your estate and then make an estate plan that is complicated for them. IRA’s, on the other hand, and other retirement accounts, can become much more complicated and need much more professional assistance from a lawyer and a financial planner.