Blogging Employee Benefits

January 12, 2006

QPSA Can’t Be Assigned to Non-Spouse

Filed under: Litigation, QDRO — Fuguerre @ 11:54 am

“Without a doubt, the details required in a QDRO present a drafting morass for the lawyer. We recognize the concern expressed by courts and commentators that the failure of domestic relations lawyers to ‘navigate the treacherous shoals’ of ERISA may harm potential beneficiaries.”

An ERISA pension plan’s qualified preretirement survivor annuity may be paid only to the plan participant’s spouse or, with proper designation, to a former spouse. Accordingly, despite a prior marital dissolution decree that had required naming of children of a former marriage as pension plan beneficiaries, QPSA benefits must be paid to the participant’s surviving spouse, according to an appellate court ruling reversing a district court decision. [Hamilton v. Washington State Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry Pension Plan, No. 04-35526, CA9 (1/10/06)]

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