If I’m a beneficiary of my friend’s 401k, can his family deny me the money?

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If I’m a beneficiary of my friend’s 401k, can his family deny me the money?

My friend died of a heart attack and he mentioned in a conversation that myself and 2 other friends were beneficiaries of his 401k plan. it was just a verbal from him telling me this that

Asked on August 6, 2018 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and the situation.  If your friend signed a Designation of Beneficiary form with his employer giving you and your toher friends the money in the 401K then it passes "outside" the Will, meaning it comes to you directly.  But I would not take that to mean that the family would not fight you for it.  Understand, though, that if he did not sign his Will then it was not properly executed under the laws in the state and it is not valid.  So everything passes via the state intestacy statute.  His brother and sister will inherit everything.  Seek legal help and find out from the Plan Administrator if he signed the designation form.  Good luck.


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