Retirement Benefits No Longer at Risk for Same-Sex Couples

The U.S. Labor Department has released an interpretation of the consequences of a landmark Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. The interpretation has eased many of the fears of same sex couples that their retirement benefits could disappear if they relocate. The ruling, which defines legally married same-sex couples as spouses as it applies to retirement plans regardless of where they live, could also be a major coup for employers, retirement plan sponsors and 401(k) service providers, according to industry observers. Also at ease are many sponsors and providers that feared administrative burdens and the risk of litigation.

If the account is a qualified plan, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 gives your spouse the right to be the sole primary beneficiary of the account. To name anyone else, a spouse must provide written consent. For IRAs and qualified plans, the law gives special privileges to spouses who inherit the funds. Unlike other inheritors, who must begin making withdrawals by December 31st of the year following the account owner’s death, a spouse who inherits an IRA or company plan has another option. The surviving spouse can roll the assets into his or her own IRA and postpone required minimum distributions until the year after he or she turns 70½.

For over twenty-five years, Lenard Leeds of Leeds Brown Law, PC has represented clients in estate litigation. We are recognized as an expert estate litigation and administrative law firm providing services in Nassau County, throughout Long Island and elsewhere in the New York City area. Please contact Lenard Leeds at Leeds Brown Law for a free consultation at 800-585-4658.