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403B Church Plan

Guest angelf

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Hi all I am hoping some one has some guidance on this. My late wifes employer was a church affiliated hospital. They operated the 403B,(funded by voluntary employee contributions), since 1992 without a written plan document. which was when she began working at the hospital. She named her sister the beneficiary. She died intestate. The original contract had a spousal beneficiary provision, meaning if she died I was automatically the beneficiary. The original prospectus and the new prospectus also had a spousal beneficiary provision. The employer ceased accepting contributions to the plan June 30 2009, they did not call it a plan termination. They opened up another 403B plan, so it can not be considered a termination. Was the closing of the plan a trigger event? My wife passed away July 08 2009, a week after the plan was closed. The insurance company stalled until Dec 30 2009. The employer then produced a written plan document that had eliminated the spousal beneficiary provision. Is there legal precedent to prevent church plans from eliminating an existing spousal provision? If you have advice on how to fight this please email me. Angel.L.Fernandez@gmail.com


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Most governmental and church plans are exempted from the spousal beneficiary rules. It "may" be in uphill battle.

Good Luck!

I understand, thank you. Does anyone happen to know if a church plan may eliminate any pre existing spousal beneficiary provision from a 403B contract?

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Very difficult to provide a good answer to your question:

- The plan itself might outline what can or cannot be amended.

- Church rules are probably not specific but might outline a general principal about permissible changes.

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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