What are a wife’s rights to a college account funded by her late husband’s ex-wife?

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What are a wife’s rights to a college account funded by her late husband’s ex-wife?

My ex-husband and I set up a 529 college account for our children; 1 is in my name for 1 daughter and the other 1 is in his name for our other daughter. If she doesn’t go to college, it can be used as a retirement account for him. I’ve been the only one putting money into both of their college accounts since we’ve divorced 3 years ago. He is getting married now and I do not want that to go into his “estate” if he would die. Could his new wife get to that money if our daughter decides to not go to college?

Asked on September 2, 2012 under Family Law, Iowa

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Since you are divorced and the second account is in his name, then your options are very limited.  He has the right to control the account if it defaults to him, including leaving the proceeds of the account to the new wife.  The only potential option that you have is if the 529 account had some joint dissolution agreement or clause--- but this is slim.  To see if there is a loophole in the documents, take everything you have to an attorney and let them review the actual records.  Otherwise... make sure your daughter goes to college--- at least an online university, so as to avoid the default clause to his estate.


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