Can I Update My Beneficiaries Online?

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Can I Update My Beneficiaries Online?In addition to our “Comprehensive” and “Collaborative” service levels, we also offer some of our services in a “Do-It-Yourself” service level that has a lower annual fee and no minimum. Basic services include asset allocation design and portfolio management using Schwab’s Institutional Intelligent Portfolios, an automated investment management platform. Some additional services are available for an additional charge.

An important part of estate planning is making sure that your retirement accounts have appropriate beneficiary designations. Once you have determined your wishes, the beneficiaries for each account may be able to be updated online.

After logging in to Schwab Alliance at, click on the person icon in the top right corner and select “Beneficiaries”.

On the page that loads, you should see each of your accounts. Select the “Edit Account” button to edit the beneficiaries of each account. From here, you can either “Edit” or “Remove” a beneficiary, “Create a New Beneficiary” under Primary and Contingent, as well as elect Per Capita or Per Stirpes for each beneficiary. All of these will automatically update the beneficiary designations on your account.

Contingent beneficiaries would only inherit the account if all of your primary beneficiaries predeceased you. One common beneficiary designation for retirement accounts is to set your spouse as the only primary beneficiary and then set your children as equal share contingent beneficiaries.

One thing to keep in mind is that, although you can do almost anything with your beneficiary designations if you can figure out how to write it, you cannot do complex designations via this online tool. And if you have previously set up complex wishes using paperwork, they should appear online in these forms, but editing them online might ruin the designations you have set.

If you have complex wishes or wish to update your complex wishes, you should utilize paperwork.

To find the correct paperwork, hover on the “Service” tab and click on “Forms.” In the window that opens, navigate to the “Beneficiary Designation Form” under the “Tax & Legal” heading towards the bottom of the page. We also have a guide to completing the form on our website here: Update IRA Beneficiary Designations (Schwab). Print, fill out, and sign the form. Then, you can return it to Schwab by uploading the document to Schwab via the message center.

If you need help with the Schwab website, you can call Schwab Alliance at 800-515-2157 or message them via the message center.

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Follow Megan Russell:

Chief Operating Officer, CFP®, APMA®

Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. She is the author of over 800 financial articles and is known for her expertise on tax planning.