Tuesday, 02 May 2017 19:12

The Importance of Beneficiary Designations in Estate Planning

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The Importance of filling out Beneficiary Designation Forms

Ruiz v Publix Super Markets, Inc.


Whether you have any Estate Planning in place or not, you need to understand this recent case


There was a case decided in a Florida Federal District Court in March of 2017 called Ruiz vs Publix Super Markets regarding an improperly filled out Beneficiary Designation Form.  


The employee was a participant in the company’s retirement plan and had filled out a beneficiary designation form.  These forms are used to tell the Plan Administrator who to give the money to, if there is any left, after the employee “participant” passes away.  The employee had done so, but down the road had decided to change the beneficiary.  Well, the plan documents provide very specific instructions on how to fill out the beneficiary designation forms.  On this occasion, even though the employee called the administrator, the employee filled the form out incorrectly.  The administrator refused to give the death benefits to the new beneficiary and instead gave them to the original beneficiary.


The Federal District Court held that the plan administrator had acted properly because substantial compliance is not enough and that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the plan administrator must act in accordance with the plan documents.  Further, the court stated that there was no justification to inquire into the expression of intent that does not comply with the plan documents.


So, as you can imagine, even if you don’t have any estate planning in place, the proper filling out of your plans beneficiary designation forms is important.  Likewise, if you do have a Revocable Living Trust, or perhaps a Stand Alone Retirement Trust, it is equally important to have your forms filled out correctly.  If you’d like to read about the advantages of estate planning, see my blog about Revocable Living Trusts, and Stand Alone Retirement Trusts.


See a lot of helpful estate planning information on my website at: www.myestate-plan.com


My most important job is to listen to your wishes then suggest solutions.  Call today and let’s start planning!  I always answer my own phone, and I even make house calls!


Thanks for reading!


Dan Powell






Just like my website, nothing in this blog is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I am licensed to practice law in California.  Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here. This is why I speak in generalities. Thanks again for reading.


This document is for informational purposes only.  Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice.  Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship.  If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of reading this information.

Last modified on Thursday, 23 November 2017 16:01

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