Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question:
"Can I Claim My Brother’s Pension Plan After He Passed Away?"
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Today's question comes from Plover, Wisconsin and the reader ask the following:
“Can I claim my brother's pension plan after he passed away? He passed away for almost two years now.”
So pension plans are generally governed by the terms of the pension plan document and the beneficiary forms that were filled out by the person while they were alive. It's a matter of contract, your brother filled out a beneficiary form. Then it's likely, I mean in almost all cases then it's going to pass according to that contract that he put on file with the pension plan because this is a matter of contract law between your brother and the pension plan.
If he did not fill out the beneficiary designation form, then his estate is the default beneficiary. To get to that pension plan proceed, you may need to open a probate for your brother’s estate and if you are an heir or the only heir, then the proceeds could get to you but it's going to depend if he had other hairs because if he did, other heirs that are closer than you, under the laws of intestate succession, for example children, then the proceeds would likely go to them.
So I suggest you get a copy of the pension plan documents and then sit down with a qualified attorney in your area and discuss your options.
You could also try calling the company itself to see if they can give you any information before you proceed to the attorney and I recommend doing that, to try to get a copy of the documents to take with you because then the attorney can help, can examine them and use their time more efficiently with you.
Great question and thank you for asking.
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