A recent USA Today story details the Supreme Court’s hearing of a case in which a DuPont employee, William Kennedy, had failed to update his financial papers listing the beneficiary of his retirement account following his divorce. DuPont paid his retirement account balance to the individual marked on his paperwork, his ex-wife. His daughter has sued for the monies, claiming that his wishes were not being followed.
The man was an employee at DuPont for 34 years and died three years after he retired. When Kennedy died in Texas in 2001, his employer, DuPont Co., looked at the form on which he designated the beneficiary of his retirement account and saw the name of his ex-wife, Liv. They paid the retirement account monies to his ex-wife, despite the fact that Liv had signed divorce papers in which she waived her right to the proceeds from that account.
Kennedy’s daughter, Kari, a 32 year old social worker who lives in Lumberton, Texas, decided to sue over the $402,000 in her father’s retirement account. A lawsuit that was originally filed in 1994 landed her before the Supreme Court on January 6, 2009.
“My father expressly did not want my mother to have another red cent after their divorce was final”, Kari Kennedy said in an interview. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he wanted me to have everything he had.”
The main federal law regarding benefit distribution for employees requires companies to strictly abide by their workers’ wishes as reflected in their written designations. Spouses are protected from attempts to cut them out of death and retirement benefits. For this reason, experienced California divorce attorneys always urge their clients to alter employee retirement beneficiary paperwork. Divorce papers alone, are not enough to override an earlier designation of beneficiary.
Wallin & Klarich has handled division of assets in California, including beneficiaries of retirement funds, property and other family law matters. Our experienced Los Angeles family law attorneys will work with you closely and personally during this very trying time to insure that all of your financial interests are covered. Contact us today for a free consultation of your situation.