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Spousal Rights

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If a Participant of a Plan during a Divorce changed their beneficiary designation from their sign and had someone else sign as the Wife to change it and to withdrawal, is that illegal and what can be done to make sure the other side receives their share of the Retirement?

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I believe that is called fraud if someone else signed on behalf of the wife prior to the divorce.

As to the rights of the wife following the divorce, that should be address by the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) that should be prepared and agreed to durring the divorce proceedings.

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The wife might want her lawyer’s advice about whether to pursue remedies more immediate than merely seeking an ordinary domestic-relations order.

Consider also that, beyond delay in getting a DRO, such an order might have limited or no effect regarding an ERISA-governed retirement plan if the participant’s account was distributed before the plan’s administrator receives the order.

This is not advice to anyone.

Peter Gulia PC

Fiduciary Guidance Counsel

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



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As Peter Gulia points out, definitely need a lawyer. If plan paid on fraudulent signature, need to examine remedy against plan potentially. Also, state court might impose a constructive trust on funds in hands of person who withdrew funds. Just possibilities to consider.

Luke Bailey

Senior Counsel

Clark Hill PLC

214-651-4572 (O) | LBailey@clarkhill.com

2600 Dallas Parkway Suite 600

Frisco, TX 75034

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