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You mean the spouse that died had listed another individual (other than the spouse) as the beneficiary of the pension?
One can freely change the beneficiary designation on IRA’s. However 401(k), and other retirement accounts are subject to ERISA spousal protections. One cannot name a beneficiary other than his or her spouse without the spouse’s consent and if one names no beneficiary the spouse takes by default. A spouse’s ERISA rights in 401(k) accounts, 403(b) accounts, pensions, etc. can be eliminated only by a final judgment of divorce, or completion and delivery of a beneficiary designation with spousal consent to the plan administrator.
So yes, it is possible, but only with the spouse's permission. The deceased spouse cannot do this (legally) without the other spouses knowledge.
I was told my father in law was named beneficiary
account was set up before my husband and I got married
Without your consent, it's not a valid designation.
ok my attorney is trying to tell me because it isn't federal employee
and where he worked is saying the same thing ....goes to his father'
that makes things a bit more difficult. One moment please...
I don't see any exception (including the situation where the pension was set up before marriage). If you're married at the time of your spouse's death, the pension should go to you under ERISA law (which is a law that applies to all private pensions). I would speak with an attorney in your area that deals with ERISA cases. A probate attorney may or may not know the ins and outs of ERISA, so it's better to speak with a specialist to get a second opinion. That being said, you need to contact an attorney in your area that deals with ERISA cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next.
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