My husband left his ex-wife as his retirement plan beneficiary. Can this be changed?

By Denise Appleby AAA
A:

Even when assets are divided following a divorce, in many cases, former spouses and heirs engage the services of attorneys and the courts to determine the beneficiaries of the retirement-plan assets of a deceased retirement account owner. This occurs when the deceased fails to update his or her beneficiary designation after a divorce or remarriage. Individuals who are recently divorced can save their beneficiaries the stress and legal fight by properly updating their beneficiary designations.

In your case, because the account holder has already died, the outcome may depend on the provisions in the plan document. Some documents provide that a beneficiary designation is revoked upon divorce. Some state laws include similar provisions.

If the account is a qualified plan, such as a profit sharing, money purchase, or defined benefit plan, the surviving spouse is usually the beneficiary by default.

To be sure, check with the custodian if it's an IRA, or check with the plan administrator it it's a qualified plan.

For related reading, see Getting A Divorce? Understand The Rules Of Dividing Plan Assets.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby.

RELATED FAQS

  1. What are the 403(b) contribution limits?

    Determine whether 403(b) contributions meet federal guidelines. Contribution limits to this retirement plan are determined ...
  2. Can I roll over a 403b plan?

    Learn whether distributions from a 403(b) plan can be rolled over, where they can be rolled over to and what the income tax ...
  3. What is the difference between a 408 (k) plan and a 401 (k) plan?

    Learn key differences between 401(k) and 408(k) plans. Employers provide different options to help employees save for retirement, ...
  4. Is a 408 (k) the same as a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP)?

    Find out the differences and the similarities between a 408(k) retirement plan and a simplified employee pension (SEP), and ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Elder Care

    Elder care, sometimes called elderly care, refers to services ...
  2. Eligible Transfer

    An IRS-allowed movement of assets into or out of an individual ...
  3. Pension Risk Transfer

    When a defined benefit pension provider offloads some or all ...
  4. Leveraged Benefits

    The use – by a business owner or professional practitioner – ...
  5. Peri-Retirement

    A term for the period of time leading up to actual retirement. ...
  6. MyRA

    A new tax-advantaged retirement account that President Barack ...
comments powered by Disqus
Related Articles
  1. When Your Job Offers An Awful Retirement ...
    Retirement

    When Your Job Offers An Awful Retirement ...

  2. Top 5 Strategies To Pay For Elder Care
    Retirement

    Top 5 Strategies To Pay For Elder Care

  3. 10 Common Retirement Planning Mistakes ...
    Retirement

    10 Common Retirement Planning Mistakes ...

  4. 7 Steps To Evaluate A Financial Adviser
    Investing Basics

    7 Steps To Evaluate A Financial Adviser

  5. 6 Retirement Planning Tips For Late ...
    Retirement

    6 Retirement Planning Tips For Late ...

Trading Center