The rules vary among retirement benefits. In some cases, because you are the current spouse, you will be treated as the beneficiary by default. This would be so even if your spouse named someone else as the beneficiary. However, a named beneficiary may challenge the default provisions, resulting in costly legal fees and a delay in your receipt of the inherited assets.

To clear up any doubts, your spouse should check with his plan's administrator about the rules that apply to their benefits. For starters, you should ensure that your spouse updates all documents to reflect any changes to beneficiary designations. They should also ask for written confirmation that the changes were made. Or, if no change is necessary, your spouse can provide a written confirmation of the current beneficiaries on record. Cases of "lost" documentation - including changes in beneficiary designations - are all too common. Usually, no one realizes these documents are lost until they're needed to determine proper allocation or disbursement of assets to beneficiaries.

For related reading, see Getting A Divorce?: Understand The Rules Of Dividing Plan Assets and Marriage, Divorce And The Dotted Line.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby
Contact Denise)

  1. Can I borrow from my annuity to put a down payment on a house?

    You can borrow from your annuity to put a down payment on a house, but be prepared to pay an assortment of fees and penalties. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the main kinds of annuities?

    There are two broad categories of annuity: fixed and variable. These categories refer to the manner in which the investment ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the risks of rolling my 401(k) into an annuity?

    Though the appeal of having guaranteed income after retirement is undeniable, there are actually a number of risks to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I get out of my annuity and transfer to a new one?

    If you decide your current annuity is not for you, there is nothing stopping you from transferring your investment to a new ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are Cafeteria plans exempt from Social Security?

    Typically, qualified benefits offered through cafeteria plans are exempt from Social Security taxes. However, certain types ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the biggest disadvantages of annuities?

    Annuities can sound enticing when pitched by a salesperson who, not coincidentally, makes huge commissions selling them. ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Top Tips for Helping Clients Through a Divorce

    It may take a delicate touch to properly assist clients who are going through a divorce. Here are some tips.
  2. Professionals

    Charity or Retirement Saving: Which to Prioritize?

    Financial planners need to help clients with their financial goals but also support them in their philanthropic endeavours.
  3. Professionals

    How Legacy Planning Can Help Capture New Clients

    Don’t underestimate the importance of legacy planning with your clients—it could serve as method for you to create new business with any heirs.
  4. Retirement

    What Does It Cost to Retire in Panama?

    Learn how much it costs to retire comfortably in Panama, and why it has become one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world.
  5. Investing

    Baby Boomer Philanthropy Shifts Wealth Adviser Focus

    Wealth advisers who integrate philanthropy and finance planning can stand out with baby boomer clients.
  6. Retirement

    The 5 Best Retirement Communities in Dallas, Texas

    Discover why the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas is a popular retirement destination, and five of the best retirement communities in the area.
  7. Stock Analysis

    3 Stocks that Are Top Bets for Retirement

    These three stocks are resilient, fundamentally sound and also pay generous dividends.
  8. Professionals

    Tips for Retaining Your Client's Heirs

    It's a good idea to start working with your clients' children early on to forge relationships and hopefully continue to manage that wealth.
  9. Investing

    Why Is Financial Literacy and Education so Important?

    Financial literacy is the confluence of financial, credit and debt knowledge that is necessary to make the financial decisions that are integral to our everyday lives.
  10. Investing

    10 Ways to Effectively Save for the Future

    Savings is as crucial as ever, as we deal with life changes and our needs for the future. Here are some essential steps to get started, now.
  1. Letter of Intent - LOI

    A document outlining the terms of an agreement before it is finalized. ...
  2. Dynamic Updating

    A method of determining how much to withdraw from retirement ...
  3. Possibility Of Failure (POF) Rates

    The likelihood that a retiree will run out of money prematurely ...
  4. Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) Method

    A method to determine how much retirees can withdraw from their ...
  5. Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract

    A Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) is a deferred annuity ...
  6. Wealth Management

    A high-level professional service that combines financial/investment ...

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!