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Christopher B, Esq
Christopher B, Esq, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2982
Experience:  Litigation Attorney with education focus on estate planning and tax
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I live in State and was the beneficiary of my sister's IRA.

Customer Question

I live in Washington State and was the beneficiary of my sister's IRA. She died and I became the owner of the IRA. I was then married and named my wife as beneficiary. I am in the process of divorcing her and I now want to remove her as a beneficiary and name others as beneficiaries. The form for changing beneficiary designation has a section called Spousal Consent and states that "If you are married and if your spouse is not designated as the sole beneficiary of your IRA, applicable state law may require spousal consent to the beneficiary(ies) your have named above." Does the Washington State law require that she sign even though the IRA came into my ownership before the marriage and is there a way I can convince the financial institution that holds the IRA that I don't need her signature?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.

My name is***** and I will be helping you with your question today. This is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship.

Normally, your spouse does not have any right to money you contributed before you were married or money that you alone inherited or were given. And the money you earned is yours to do with as you please if you and your spouse signed a valid agreement to keep all your property separate.

This IRA is no longer separate property as it was commingled with the community property of your marriage by adding your spouse as the beneficiary. If you would have named someone else originally besides your spouse then it could have kept itself as separate and stayed out as community propert.

If your spouse is excluded completely as a primary beneficiary or is named as a primary beneficiary, but provided a share of the IRA that is to be less than 50%, Washington law requires that your spouse must acknowledge a wavier of their rights to the share of a community asset, the IRA, by signing the beneficiary designation form. If you designate someone other than your spouse as a primary beneficiary and do not get a waiver signed in the waiver section on the beneficiary form, the beneficiary designation is invalid and your spouse's share of the IRA becomes a part of their estate, subject to disposition by will.

Generally, as a matter of administrative convenience, the account custodian will require a spouse's signature on the waiver section of the beneficiary form in all cases where the primary beneficiary designation includes anyone other than their spouse or in addition to the account owner's spouse.

To answer your question, you will now need a waiver from your spouse to remove the name from the IRA until the divorce is completed and they are no longer your spouse.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer as it is the only way I will be compensated for my time by the site. (There should be smiley faces or numbers from 1-5 next to my answer, an excellent or good rating would be fantastic.)

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.

I see you have reviewed my answer, do you have any further questions? If not, please positively rate my answer as it is the only way I will be compensated for my time by the site.

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Any chance for a positive rating?