Does a Will Override the Named Beneficiary of Life Insurance or 401(k)?

A Will outlines the distribution of assets of a person’s estate to named beneficiaries.

But what about the assets of that estate that already name a specific beneficiary in advance — like a life insurance policy, a 401(k), or an IRA?

The proceeds of assets like a life insurance policy or 401(k) account are not “probate assets”.

These types of assets — in which a beneficiary is named directly within — pass to the person named as beneficiary in the policy or retirement account.

The distribution of these assets does NOT require the approval of the Probate court. And in fact, if these are the only assets of an estate, the estate need not go through the process of the opening of a probate estate.

As such, the person named as beneficiary within retirement accounts or life insurance policies takes precedence over any person named in a Last Will and Testament for that particular asset.