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QDROs and death benefits

Texas residents who are getting divorced certainly have many decisions to make about their divorce settlement. However, nailing down the particulars of a divorce decree is hardly sufficient and leaves many things potentially unfinished. For example, most married people name their spouses as their primary beneficiaries for things like life insurance or other survivor's benefits. They are also quite likely to be the primary beneficiaries of any assets in a will or a trust. So, when a marriage ends, it may be important that these documents and designations are updated.

Many divorcing spouses must split retirement accounts as part of their settlement terms. Alternatively, some people may tap into their 401k funds in order to make spousal support payments. These things may be made possible through the use of a qualified domestic relations order as the United States Department of Labor explains. A QDRO names a person other than the account owner as an alternate payee on the account.

As part of a divorce decree, a couple may agree that the alternate payee shall be considered the surviving spouse in the event that the plan owner dies even if the plan owner should eventually remarry before dying. Simply stating this in a divorce settlement document is not sufficient. These terms should be outlined in a QDRO.

If you would like to learn more about qualified domestic relations orders and how they may be useful in assignment death benefits from retirement accounts to former spouses, please feel free to visit the surviving spouse beneffit page of our Texas estate planning site.

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