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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33926
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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My mother worked national life, which became Reliastar which

Customer Question

my mother worked for northwestern national life, which became Reliastar which became IBM, then from what i understand. she was with them for most of her life. she had a heart procedure done in august 2015 and later died from septic infection following the procedure in October 2015. A few weeks before she died she got an envelope in the mail asking if she wanted to opt out of her pension for a lump sum one time payment of 55,000.00. She asked me to help her with the paperwork as she was very sick. She never recovered enough to fill the paper work out by the oct 21st deadline as she passed on Oct. 8th. Voya claims that they dont owe her , or her family anything, but had she lived another 3 weeks she would have received a check for 55,000.00. This dosnt seem fair as she worked for them for so long, and certanly earned her pension as a vested employee. can this be accurate information that im getting from the people that are supposed to pay??? also she had no life insurance. but did own stock threw i entitled to this as i am her living heir? Please advise. Sincerley, Melissa Schold
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

Can it be accurate? It's possible but it is unlikely. You're going to have to get an attorney that does ERISA work to look over the pension plan to see what they are actually saying. If she is vested then they can't "take away" any amount for which she is vested. However, you may not be able to collect it for some years, depending on the exact language of the plan, and they all differ. This is covered by ERISA and unless someone does work with ERISA on a regular basis, there is very little chance that they understand ERISA thoroughly.

As to the stock, if she left a will, the stock passes according to the will. If she had a designated beneficiary on the stock, then it passes to the designated beneficiary, if the account was a Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship then the stock passes to the person who was the joint tenant. If none of these apply and she did not have a will then it passes according to intestate succession as exaplined on this web page

You can find a lawyer to assist you by going to and in the section for Area of Practice enter ERISA Law and Probate Law. Hopefully there will be someone who is listed as practicing in both of these areas and, if so, that's the person to speak to. If not, start with the lawyer that does probate law and they can call in an ERISA lawyer to consult.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered. In addition, once you issue your Positive Rating the question will lock open and no longer time out so you can come back to it anytime in the future if you think of any follow ups.