Estate of Deeter

In Estate of Deeter, 2020 UT App. 65 (Utah App. 2020), the decedent had named his wife as the primary beneficiary on certain of his retirement plans, and named his brother as the contingent beneficiary. The decedent’s subsequent divorce had the effect of revoking his former wife as the primary beneficiary on those accounts, leaving his brother as the beneficiary. The decedent then married the woman to whom he was still married at his death, but he never changed the beneficiary designation on those retirement plans. When he died, his brother was still named as the beneficiary on those accounts.

The Utah Court of Appeals rejected the argument put forth by the decedent’s surviving spouse that the decedent’s testamentary intent was that she be the primary beneficiary on the plans. The court explained that retirement plans are contracts, and, as such, are non-testamentary in nature. Testamentary intent is therefore not relevant to the disposition of a retirement plan that has a designated beneficiary.

For a discussion of the disposition of retirement plans in Utah, see “Basic Estate Planning Information” on the home page of this website.

Rust Tippett is the author of this blog post.

Copyright 2020 UNLEPI, LLC, a Utah limited liability company.  All Rights Reserved.

This blog post in no way creates an attorney-client relationship between the reader and either Robert S. (Rust) Tippett or Bennett Tueller Johnson & Deere, LLC.  The reader should consult with his or her own estate planning attorney regarding his or her particular circumstances.



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