Can a marital agreement (like a pre- or postnup) override a spouse’s right to be a retirement plan beneficiary? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently said no – in one specific case, at least.  The ruling illustrates that overriding spousal rights to a client’s retirement plan may be more difficult than expected.

For financial advisers, this is a key point to discuss with married plan participants who wish to leave their employer-sponsored retirement account to a non-spouse. Such clients should proceed carefully, making sure they comply with the plan’s procedure for a proper spousal waiver.

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