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IRA with no beneficiary named


Guest eric 6523
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Guest eric 6523

My father died recently leaving behind an IRA which according to Wells Fargo had no beneficiary designation. Therefore, the spouse is the default beneficiary. The spouse is his second wife who released her marital rights in a pre-nup. What do I do?

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What did Wells Fargo say when you asked them? Wells Fargo would have to tell you if they would act solely from the pre-nup. My first thought is they might want the 2nd wife to sign a beneficiary disclaimer form. You'd have to ask Wells Fargo who the beneficiary would be if the wife disclaims.

Kurt Vonnegut: 'To be is to do'-Socrates 'To do is to be'-Jean-Paul Sartre 'Do be do be do'-Frank Sinatra

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Speaking as a non-lawyer:

It is a known fact that a pre-nup release is not sufficient to stand as a spousal waiver in a pension plan subject to the Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity requirements. When the spouse signed the pre-nup, he or she did not have standing as a spouse to be able to waive spousal rights under the pension plan. Only a spouse can validly waive spousal rights.

If the second wife considers herself honor-bound to act in accordance with the pre-nup and signs a disclaimer form, that would be likely sufficient to resolve the issue.

Always check with your actuary first!

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If the spouse doesn't disclaim I think you want to hire a lawyer ASAP, who may be able to force Wells Fargo to freeze the account and not make any distributions to the spouse. It is quite likely that the state law involved here would say that the spouse has no entitlement to the IRA as a result of the pre-nup.

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Guest eric 6523

OK- Wells Fargo says they don't interpret legal issues; they just follow their policy on IRAs. They are sending us the disclaimer forms so we can see if she'll do the right thing and sign. I called her and talked with her daughter to just ask them if they had received any communication from any bank (Wells Fargo at first only told me that I was not the beneficiary but wouldn't tell me who was). Now Wells Fargo finally told me that there was no beneficiary designation on the account and therefore the beneficiary package was sent to the default beneficiary (the spouse; his second wife). They say they got her name off the death certificate and mailed the beneficiary packet March 3. I don't know where they got her address (my father and her were not living together at the time of his death). And they claim (wife and daughter) they haven't received it. The spouse(89 year old) maybe would sign it but the daughter(66 years old) and living with her mother is broke and in debt and a bit psychotic and we're afraid she'll want to get her hands on it. Any more advice would be appreciated, The value of the IRA is $73K, Thanks in advance for any advice.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm not a lawyer. My first non-lawyer advice is look for the envelopes or file folders that are associated with the Wells IRA. Wells may be incorrect about the beneficiary designation. You may have signed papers where the beneficiary is designated. Wells is an amalgum of many banks. Your fathers account could have started out with a different bank. Bank computer systems also get merged and updated, so a beneficiary designation may have been deleted at some point. I think it is worth looking through your papers.

Absent any clarifying documents, the ownership will probably be settled by state law, not Wells "default".

You should get legal advice on this issue.

NOTE TO ALL OTHERS: Do you know what your IRA and/or ROTH beneficiary designation says? You should check this annually.

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