Who is entitled to retirement benefits after a father’s passing?

My father left me his retirement as beneficiary, can my brothers go after it without a Will or trust?

Asked on December 4, 2010 under Estate Planning, California


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are the named beneficiary of his retirement plan then you, and only you, would have rights to it.  This would be true whether or not there was a Will.  This is because such benefits pass outside of the probate estate.  In other words, they are payable to the named beneficiary directly.  The only way your brother's would have rights to this money would be if the named beneficiary was your father's estate and not you (or no beneficiary was listed).  In such case, the benefits would be paid into his estate.  Since there was no Will, the heirs at-law (you and your brothers, assuming no surviving spouse) would be entitled to inherit.

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