Broker Check
Stop me if you've heard this before.

Stop me if you've heard this before.

| May 07, 2024

I wrote on the subject of the importance of beneficiary reviews in late April. It is critical to keep your beneficiaries up to date. I cannot tell you how many beneficiary tussles I have seen in 34 years in the industry. The retirement plan case I most frequently cite is Kennedy v. DuPont from 2009.

Speaking of retirement, perhaps I will retire the Kennedy case in favor of April 29, 2024 decision in case of Proctor & Gamble v. The Estate of Jeffrey Rolison. At stake in this case? $754,006.54! In 1987, when Rolison enrolled in the P&G 401k, he named his girlfriend and cohabitant as beneficiary. When the relationship ended in 1989, he did not change the beneficiary.

As a matter of fact, it appears he did not make any changes or enter a new beneficiary in the 401k online system in spite of repeated requests from P&G. P&G reached out to him repeatedly between 1989 and 2015 when Jeffrey passed away.

US District Judge Mehalchick ruled against the Estate, with the 401k proceeds going to Jeffrey's former girlfriend. One could surmise this might not have been Jeffrey's intention but it is what the Court decided. As a matter of fact, Jeffrey began a new relationship in 2002 with a co-worker, naming her on his life insurance and health benefits but not his 401k. Perhaps he had intended to? In any case, his co-worker did try to make a claim on the 401k but her interests in the case were dismissed December 15, 2021.

I can't even wrap my head around how much must have been spent in attorney fees on all three sides, P&G, Jeffrey's Estate, and the co-worker. This could all have been avoided if Jeffrey had made a clear designation in the online 401k system and kept it up to date. Really, folks, please stop me if you have heard this song before. PLEASE KEEP YOUR BENEFICIARIES UP TO DATE. Full stop.