Name That Beneficiary!

Quote of the Week

“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” – Yogi Berra

Technical Corner

Last week the markets were headed for a negative return until the jobs report came in much higher than expected and pulled the return for the week up to slightly positive. The report was up 266 thousand jobs. Of that 266 thousand jobs, about 50 thousand were the result of the General Motors strike being settled and its workers going back to work. We also got a positive revision of 41 thousand jobs collectively for the months of September and October.

On a rate of change basis, you usually see the anomalous rise during periods of fiscal stimulus. When the rate of change in job growth peaks it’s a one-way road of deceleration lower until you see a recession. We did have an unprecedented late cycle stimulus via the tax cut and the cut in the Fed’s interest rate which has pushed business and consumer consumption forward.

We are reaching a level in which job growth and subsequent rising incomes will start to affect corporate profits. With the projected GDP growth for the fourth quarter to be only a positive 0.49%, revenue for businesses will decline. With employee costs rising, profits will have to come down. I believe once Wall Street sees the declining corporate profits results, which will be reported in January and February of next year, growth stocks will be in peril.

At some point, all of the above will come to a realization. Because I can’t tell you when it will happen, we are maintaining a conservative position.

Larry’s Thoughts

I came across this article a while ago and I fully agree with the author’s message.

No beneficiary designation for an IRA? Here’s what can happen

If you have an individual retirement account, do you recall filling out a beneficiary designation form? That’s the document that allows you to direct the IRA custodian to transfer your IRA to people you name in the form. The custodian is the institution that holds your IRA assets for you.

Do you recall reading the custodian’s IRA agreement? If you have a copy in your file (you should), you might want to dust it off and look it over. Here’s why:

In that document, you will find provisions that take over in certain instances, such as if you fail to designate a beneficiary. As I give you two examples, think about how these provisions might affect you.

A major institution that has custody of about 10 million IRAs has the following provision:

“If the [IRA owner] had not by the date of his or her death properly designated a Beneficiary . . . or if no designated primary or contingent Beneficiary survives the [IRA owner], the [IRA owner]’s Beneficiary shall be his or her surviving spouse, but if he or she has no surviving spouse, his or her estate.”

This type of provision is not uncommon. It gives the institution the authority to transfer the IRA when the owner dies if there is no beneficiary designation on file.

A married IRA owner’s IRA would pass to his or her spouse, which would allow for continued tax deferral. Unlike non-spouse beneficiaries, a surviving spouse has the option of transferring the IRA into his or her own IRA.

What would happen to an IRA owner who is single? An unmarried IRA owner’s IRA would pass to his or her estate under this custodian agreement’s default provision.

The result may not be what you want if you would like the IRA to be inherited by a niece, nephew, child or grandchild. If an IRA transfers to an estate, the IRA loses its connection to a person for “stretch” purposes (keep in mind that an IRA is an “individual” retirement account). That is, tax deferral can be lost quickly, a topic for a later column.

Other agreements are more flexible. Check out this one, for example:

“If there is no Beneficiary designation on file with the Custodian, or if no primary or contingent Beneficiaries survive the Participant, the Custodian shall distribute the Account in the following order of preference:

“(i) The Participant’s surviving spouse, if any

“(ii) The Participant’s children, if any, in equal shares per stirpes

“(iii) The Participant’s estate”

I like this provision much more than the first one. It works better for both married and single people who have children or grandchildren. “Per stirpes” comes into play when a child predeceases the IRA owner; the grandchildren (the deceased child’s children) inherit the share the deceased child would have received had he or she been alive when the IRA owner died.

Again, these provisions come into play if your custodian does not have your beneficiary designation on file. I would strongly suggest that you double-check by calling your IRA custodian for a copy of what they have on hand. Or you can fill out a new beneficiary designation —just make sure your custodian places the designation on file. Otherwise, the default provision of the custodian agreement will apply. Also, be sure your beneficiary designations are kept in a safe place.

Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal portfolio manager (Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn.) and author, welcomes your questions/comments (

“No beneficiary designation for an IRA? Here’s what can happen.” Mercury News, 12 Aug 2019, Accessed 10 December

If you have friends or family in need of financial life planning services,

It would be the honor of Laurence Lof Financial Advisors to assist them.

We value your referrals!

These are Larry Lof’s opinions and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Due to our compliance review process, delayed dissemination of this commentary occurs.

The S&P 500 index of stocks compiled by Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. The Index includes a representative sample of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. Indices mentioned are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Technical analysis represents an observation of past performance and trend, and past performance and trend are no guarantee of future performance, price, or trend. The price movements within capital markets cannot be guaranteed and always remain uncertain. The allocation discussed herein is not designed based on the individual needs of any one specific client or investor. In other words, it is not a customized strategy designed on the specific financial circumstances of the client. Please consult an advisor to discuss your individual situation before making any investments decision. Investing in securities involves risk of loss. Further, depending on the different types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk including loss of original principal.

Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Laurence Lof Financial Advisors, LLC are not affiliated. Laurence Lof Financial Advisors 4757 E Camp Lowell Drive Tucson AZ 85712

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