Is it possible for me to inherit my father’s pension?

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Is it possible for me to inherit my father’s pension?

Hello and good day to you,

I was just wondering what kind of legal action I should take with an issue I am
having obtaining my father’s pension. My father worked for General Motors for
over 20 years and worked the vested number of years to be eligible for a pension,
my father recently passed away and never had the chance to receive any pension
payments. I contacted General Motors to report his death and to claim his
benefits. I was told by a GM representative only a surviving spouse could receive
his pension, pensions don’t get paid out to surviving children according to the
plan. How do I go about taking legal action with this issue?
Thank you in advance for any advice, I look forward to hearing from you.

Asked on February 4, 2018 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can't take action in regards to this issue: an adult child has no right to a deceased parent's pension, the same way that you would have no right to his social security payments.
IF this was not a pension but a 401(k), then any money in which he was vested (i.e. his own contributions and any employer match which had vested) would become the property of his estate on his death, and so would be something you could inherit; that's because a 401(k) is really just a tax-advantaged savings plan, so it belongs to the estate the way other bank or brokerage accounts do. But a true pension is not a 401(k); it is the employer's right to receive payments for the rest of *his* life upon retirement and does not represent a sum or pool of money which he owns--again, it is more like social security payments than like a bank or brokerage account. While a pension might also go to a surviving spouse (the way the non-working spouse of a deceased worker is still entitled to some social security payments), it is not inheritable by children.


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