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My husband passed away on Dec. 16,2016. He worked for the…

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Hi....My husband passed away...

Hi....My husband passed away on Dec. 16,2016. He worked for the State of Tennessee as its Risk Manager. After his death I contacted the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System to begin the process of receiving my benefits. I learned at the time of this phone call that my husband had marked the "Regular/Maximum Plan" that stated that the monthly benefit payable to my husband for his lifetime with all benefits ceasing at death. I was completely shocked at this. It was certainly not what he and I had discussed. The State of Tennessee does not have the consent waiver for spouses in regard to this choice or any choice. On the form that was filled out, there was an area that my husband and I filled out and I signed that left me as his beneficiary. The box that he marked with no benefits after death was NOT marked when I signed as beneficiary......My husband and I became clients of and elder care law firm when he became ill. At my first meeting with them I told them what I had learned and had found the original form in his paper work from his office. They were surprised that the retirement counselor that help my husband set up his retirement didn't have a new form filled out with that particular choice of his showing no beneficiary. Like I said, the State of Tennessee does not have contact the spouse over any choice that the employee makes. The attorney that I was meeting with at the elder care practice said she felt that the form was ambiguous in my favor. Simpy, I am just wanting to know if there is a legal recourse to this or do I need to just let this go. The opinion of the attorney that I met with has just kind of stayed with me all of this time. Thank you for any advice that you might be able to give me.

Lawyer's Assistant: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

Tennessee

Lawyer's Assistant: Has anything been filed or reported?

No, nothing but probate for his estate.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Nothing that I can think of. Thank you.

Submitted: 9 months ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 8 minutes by:
8/4/2017
Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 9 months ago
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 124,454
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, legally once he took out the selection of the maximum pension, that cannot be changed and certainly cannot be changed post death. Even if he were alive, IRS rules make that selection permanent with some very limited exceptions which do not apply to the situtation you describe. The form being "ambiguous" is in itself not going to help with this. If the form said he selected maximum benefit you are not really going to have a strong case to change that selection post death as there is no way now to show anything about his intent or that it was a mistake or that it was misrepresented to him, unlike if he would still be alive he could argue that it was an error because the way the form was set up or that it was misrepresented to him which would be within IRS rules to allow a change.
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