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Married 401(k) participant beneficiary not spouse


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A U.S. 401(k) participant  is married to someone who resides in India.  Originally when she filled out the 401(k) beneficiary form she left the money to someone else.  Once she was told that she had to get spousal consent to leave him off, she filed a new beneficiary form with the same beneficiary designating herself as single.  What are the ramifications of this to the plan sponsor?

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If the plan sponsor has reason to believe she is married (and that she is lying to the employer), the sponsor has a fiduciary duty to ask for a copy of the divorce or legal separation or mandate the spousal consent.  Remember, the spouse has ERISA rights that also have to be protected by the plan.

Lawrence C. Starr, FLMI, CLU, CEBS, CPC, ChFC, EA, ATA, QPFC
Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc.
46 Daggett Drive
West Springfield, MA 01089

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