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Old 11-01-2017, 11:34 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by cathy63 View Post
She needs to contact her husband's employer and ask to meet with the HR Benefits Coordinator or Specialist. I don't think she needs a lawyer to have this conversation, but she should bring someone (you?) who can take notes and will help her remember the details later.
Probably one of the best things you can do for her is to be with her to whatever meetings and phone calls and such that she has to go through. I've seen a lot of people dealing with death over the past few years, and having someone who is detached enough to hear what the experts say is invaluable. Most people's brains tend to get overwhelmed with grief and they miss a lot of details. So just being there will be a great help that hopefully she will appreciate later.
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Old 11-01-2017, 12:45 PM   #22
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I agree that it is a good thing to do, but not always a major factor. In DW's case, who died intestate and 48, all of our possessions were in joint and all accounts were set up with spouse POD. In VA, everything else goes to spouse first if intestate. There were no problems in retitling everything in my name and no probate required. This was a much simpler case with no children from a previous marriage and in a state that transferred assets according to our wishes. Shortly after DW's death, I did a will because things became more complicated.
When we did our will with a lawyer back in the day (a friend who thinks we have no money), he said we didn’t really even need a will because our assets would just go to each other under state law anyway. I always thought that was a funny thing for a lawyer to say.

To the OP—so sorry about your friend. She is lucky to have someone like you in her life.
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Old 11-01-2017, 01:11 PM   #23
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Probably one of the best things you can do for her is to be with her to whatever meetings and phone calls and such that she has to go through. I've seen a lot of people dealing with death over the past few years, and having someone who is detached enough to hear what the experts say is invaluable. Most people's brains tend to get overwhelmed with grief and they miss a lot of details. So just being there will be a great help that hopefully she will appreciate later.
+1

And, if it's OK with the HR rep, record the meeting with your friend's smart phone (download a free recording app ahead-of-time and practice using it) so she'll have something at-hand to refresh her memory.

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Old 11-01-2017, 01:17 PM   #24
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Also, she will be entitled to social security survivor benefits.
Isn't there a requirement that the marriage lasted for at least 10 years for the spouse to qualify for survivor benefits?
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Old 11-01-2017, 01:22 PM   #25
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I believe a spouse has to sign an agreement to give up rights to any retirement accounts. Law trumps beneficiaries, so she should definitely contact a lawyer. She should still get any 401k or IRA assets.
This is not true for "any retirement accounts." Spouses do have certain rights with respect to being beneficiaries of 401k accounts, but a spouse has NO rights with respect to being excluded as a beneficiary of IRA's or other retirement accounts not covered by ERISA.

https://www.elderlawanswers.com/do-s...or-an-ira-8831
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Old 11-01-2017, 01:25 PM   #26
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Isn't there a requirement that the marriage lasted for at least 10 years for the spouse to qualify for survivor benefits?
My understanding is the 10-year requirement relates to spousal benefits, not survivor benefits.
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Old 11-01-2017, 01:29 PM   #27
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Depending on the company, he may have had company-provided life insurance as a benefit. It's one more thing to inquire about (and find out who is named as the beneficiary.)

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Old 11-01-2017, 02:36 PM   #28
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Isn't there a requirement that the marriage lasted for at least 10 years for the spouse to qualify for survivor benefits?
On a side note-(it's complicated)She was married to him 15 years ago for a couple years, divorced but dated that whole time and recently remarried. So I know she is eligible for the pension if he died while retired because they were married a total of at least a year. I just wasn't sure how pensions work if someone had not retired yet.

And again my sincere thanks to all who have contributed here.
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Old 11-01-2017, 05:41 PM   #29
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On a side note-(it's complicated)She was married to him 15 years ago for a couple years, divorced but dated that whole time and recently remarried. So I know she is eligible for the pension if he died while retired because they were married a total of at least a year. I just wasn't sure how pensions work if someone had not retired yet.

And again my sincere thanks to all who have contributed here.
The documentation for my pension plan says "If you have not commenced your benefit, your spouse is automatically entitled to a pre-retirement death benefit, provided you are vested and have not received your first pension payment." I would not want to assume that is generally applicable across all pensions at all employers though. She really needs to talk to the benefits specialist at her husband's employer to get an answer about their plan.
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Old 11-01-2017, 06:04 PM   #30
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Definitely get them in touch with an experienced probate attorney. Most states have laws for pretermitted spouses. That is, if he had will done before marriage the spouse's intestate interest likely trumps the will for a portion. In CA, for example, it would probably be 1/3 to the spouse. Key is acting quickly and with an experienced probate attorney.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:20 PM   #31
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I was a housewife widowed at age 38 with a 12 year old diabetic son. Unknown to me my deceased husband left his life insurance to our son. I was not allowed one dime of it. We did have mortgage insurance so the house was paid for. His 401K rolled over to me and I was able to keep his health insurance for 2 years for $175/month. I had to cash in our savings for son's college to pay for the funeral as we had no other savings. It was a tough time, I'm thankful for social security benefits. I rec'd nearly $1800/month until son turned 16. By then I had remarried. I had some hard times and bitterness nearly 28 years ago.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:35 PM   #32
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In New York, if there is a valid will, a surviving spouse has the "right of election," i.e., the right to take either (i) what he/she gets in the will or (ii) 1/3 of the estate. So even if the will leaves the entire estate to others, the spouse has a right to 1/3 of the estate.
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