Dear Harry: When my ex and I married (1979), he changed the beneficiary on his life insurance and IRA to me. We were divorced in 2005. At that time, he changed the beneficiary on the life insurance to his two daughters from a previous marriage, but he left me on the IRA. I don't know whether this was just an oversight. He died last December and left a will 100 percent in favor of the daughters. The stockbroker who is the manager of the IRA notified me that I am the beneficiary and outlined how I can handle it. There's $94,000 in it so we're not talking about sawdust. The daughters have gotten a lawyer who got the broker to freeze the IRA by saying that my ex intended to exclude me from everything. At this point the broker is on my side. They told the lawyer that the will has zero effect on the naming of a beneficiary in IRAs or life insurance. Should I get a lawyer of my own to help me with this?
What Harry says: It appears that you have a good team on your side. The broker is carrying the fight. It's pretty established that a will cannot supersede the provision of a beneficiary clearly identified in the IRA. I'm at a loss to understand why this lawyer thought he could get around this. There certainly was no fraud or coercion on your part. However, your situation is one that should emphasize the need to cover all the bases in a divorce action. *
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.