What to do if my mother recently passed away and was remarried but named me as beneficiary on her life insurance and her 401k?

UPDATED: Apr 23, 2013

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What to do if my mother recently passed away and was remarried but named me as beneficiary on her life insurance and her 401k?

She was married at the time of her death and her husbans believes that he is entitled to everything. She has 4 childern, including myself, from a previous marriage. I have read that by federal law and a spouse is the automatic beneficiary on 401, but if the deceased names another person then the spouse is entitled to half and the beneficiary the other half. My sibilings want to take the money and divide by 4, which I agree with 100% but I am afraid that since I am beneficiary that I will be the one sued if there is an issue due to federal law. Her spouse has no idea that I am beneficiary, he thinks that is automatically comes to him. what should I do?

Asked on April 23, 2013 under Estate Planning, Arkansas


Victor Waid / Law Office of Victor Waid

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your reading of the federal law about the 401k beneficiary split is correct; the step father gets one half and the beneficiary gets half where the 401k holder names someonelse.. As to the life insurance,  the named beneficiary receives the policy benefits. You are advised and may have to obtain probate legal counsel to represent you versus the step father, but don't back down. So make your claims as to yourself, and let him make his own claim as to his share of the 401K plan; he may get legal counsel also. So be prepared for his turmoil that will be coming at you.

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