Does a 401K go to the widow or the designated beneficiaries?

A friend needs advice. Her brother had 401k that he contributed since he was single and put 2 of the sisters as beneficiaries 50/50. He died but was married and had 1 daughter. He passed away last year. The wife treated him so badly that he did not want to change the beneficiary names. His wish was to leave it like that for his sisters. He did not want to give to his wife until last breath. The 2 sisters paid for all the funeral expenses. Now the wife brings the 2 sisters to court. She wants the money. Will she win and take all the money even though her name is not on the beneficiary list?

Asked on March 16, 2016 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Some of a deceased's assets are not part of their estate; proceeds from a of a 401k are among such assets. This means that they pass directly to the named beneficiaries listed. Therefore an heir cannot make a claim to these proceeds.


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