Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Category Archives: Beneficiary Designations

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Ninth Circuit Rules Beneficiary Designation Forms Are Not Documents and Instruments Governing the Plan

In Becker v. Mays-Williams, 13-35069-cv, 2015 WL 348872 (9th Cir. Jan 28, 2015), the Ninth Circuit – in a matter of first impression – concluded that beneficiary designation forms were not “documents and instruments governing” an ERISA plan, as described in Section 404(a)(1)(d) of ERISA.  A participant called the plan office and telephonically re-designated his … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit: Spousal Consent Not Required Under Top-Hat Plans

The Ninth Circuit held that a participant’s brother, rather than his spouse, was the proper beneficiary of benefits under a profit sharing plan.  In so holding, the Court found that:  (a) the participant’s first wife, who was designated as the primary beneficiary, had waived her rights to benefits as part of the couple’s divorce; and … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Finds Plan Administrator Has No Duty to Inquire into Authenticity of Participant’s Beneficiary Designation

Plaintiff Kristopher Towles, the son of a deceased participant of a life insurance plan, challenged the plan’s decision to pay the life insurance proceeds to the deceased’s husband, contending that the beneficiary form replacing him with the deceased husband had been forged.  After five attempts to state a claim, the district court dismissed the complaint … Continue Reading
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