Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Feuer on Questions of Justice and Law Raised When an Employee Benefits Plan Beneficiary Strangles His Grandmother, the Participant, to Death

ErisaOn what might already have won best title of the year for a paper, Albert Feuer has a new piece out entitled:  Questions of Justice and Law Raised When an Employee Benefits Plan Beneficiary Strangles His Grandmother, the Participant, to Death, 32 Tax Management Weekly Report 1756, 12/23/2013. 

The following is a brief summary provided by Albert:

A recent New York Daily News story, “NYC Law Firm Files Suit to Bar Slain Employee's Killer from Collecting on 401(k),” describes a heinous crime, and suggests the crime was compounded by foolish employee benefits law that may permit the slayer to keep the death benefits.  My article responds that the so-called slayer rule that deprives a slayer of a plan participant of the participant’s death benefits may lead to injustice in some cases.  Moreover, I argue that ERISA allows state criminal law to deprive the slayer of such benefits, but does not allow state non-criminal law to deprive the slayer of such benefits, and adherence to the slayer rule may create tax qualification issues for pension plans.

Another interesting, pulled-from-the-headlines piece by Albert involving the intersection of the real world and ERISA. Check it out when you have the chance.

PS

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2014/01/feuer-on-questions-of-justice-and-law-raised-when-an-employee-benefits-plan-beneficiary-strangles-hi.html

Pension and Benefits, Scholarship | Permalink

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Comments

This somewhat begs the question of how far and how specific ERISA plans can be expected to go in establishing those who are entitled to benefits. Is it reasonable to expect plan drafters to investigate and expound upon "intent" arguments that may or may not be lacking in state criminal law statutes? What about national companies? Or international ones?

It appears blanket statements of adherence to criminal slayer rules would not be sufficient. However, overtly specific language in the absence of criminal law guidance would venture curiously close to public policy making in an area left open or even intentionally untouched by legislature.

Posted by: Fran CoHarris | Jan 20, 2014 8:07:01 PM

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