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Ex-Spouse Beware? Pensions and Estate Plans After a California Divorce

By June 12, 2009May 25th, 2016No Comments2 min read

If your California divorce decree says that you or your former spouse will give up the right to the other’s pension, is it ever possible for that spouse to be paid the benefits anyway? San Diego divorcées and soon to be ex-spouses alike should pay attention, because earlier this year the United States Supreme Court ruled on this question in Kennedy v. Plan Administrator for DuPont Savings & Investment Plan.

In the case, an ex-wife had previously waived her right to her ex-husband’s retirement benefits and pension, but in the years after divorce he never removed her as a beneficiary. When he died, his daughter requested the $400,000 in benefits be paid to the estate, but his employer (DuPont) paid the balance to his ex-wife as required by the plan.

In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the money properly went to his ex-wife despite the divorce decree. We hope we can help you avoid these pitfalls, and don’t forget the Supreme Court’s simple message: change your beneficiary and follow your retirement plan’s rules.

Now that you’ve considered retirement benefits, you may have started wondering about your will. Under California law, property that is set to pass to your spouse under your will is automatically revoked when you divorce, but have you thought about where you want that property to go now? Minella Law Group can update your will, living trust, and related inheritance documents to make sure that your property is distributed to your loved ones according to your wishes; we’ll also will answer any questions you have about how your property can best be protected from probate fees and inheritance taxes after divorce.

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